Card of the Day: 2000 Topps Gallery Masters of the Game Greg Maddux

madduxtgIt appears that one of the greatest pitchers of this generation has rode off into the sunset. Word broke this week that Greg Maddux is leaning toward retirement rather than return for a 24th season. If this is in fact the end, it truly is a sad event for baseball. Maddux has had a stellar career, one that kind of gets lost in the shadows of his peers who threw faster, struck out more batters and had their names in the news more often.

Now don’t get me wrong, Maddux got his fair share of pub. He was the anchor for those Atlanta Braves pitching staffs that led the team to a decade of dominance. And he was a star in this:

But when thinking of Maddux, am I the only one who feels like he has gotten lost behind stars Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, three of the top pitchers of the last three decades — if not ever?

Maddux was not flashy or dominant in the sense that he blew batters away with fastballs that approached triple figures. But Maddux was filfthy, and in some ways, better than Clemens, Johnson and Martinez. The fireballers just overpowered people with their stuff. And in doing so, they captivated crowds and inked themselves into the history of the sport. Maddux on the other hand used what he had — an arsenal of pitches that on its face was not overwhelming, pinpoint accuracy, and his brillant mind to out think hitters. And it is because of this makeup that I think he is just as good as Clemens, Johnson and Martinez. And this is not a slight to those hurlers. All three belong in the Hall of Fame, and are probably among the top 10 pitchers the game has ever seen.

That said, where does Maddux belong on a list of best pitchers in the history of baseball? Because there are so many ways to handicap this topic, it’s impossible to come up with one right answer. And I will not attempt to sell you on the idea that Maddux is the greatest the game has ever seen. That’d be just silly.

But kick this one around: If Maddux is behind Clemens, Johnson and Martinez, and those three hurlers belong on a list of Top 10 pitchers in the history of the game, does Greg Maddux belong on a Top 15 list?

On the back of this 2000 Topps Gallery Masters of the Game subset card, it states that the 1999 edition of “Total Baseball” has Maddux ranked EIGHTH all time. Of course this was almost a decade ago, which could help or hurt Maddux’s case these days.

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