Friday, December 05, 2008

Mad Dogs and terrific trios

Greg Maddux
Any careful reader knows that the Atlanta Braves are the official Major League Baseball team of MoneyLaw. Just look at the banner atop this blog.

It's worth a MoneyLaw post, then, to note the impending retirement of Greg Maddux. Some of the key numbers: A lifetime 355-227 record. A 3.16 ERA. Four consecutive Cy Young Awards. Eight All-Star games; 18 Gold Gloves. A key part in the Braves' 1995 World Series championship, the only one they've won in Atlanta. A sure-fire first-round Hall of Famer.

Smoltz, Glavine, MadduxChicago Cubs fans may argue that Maddux's image in the Hall should wear a Cubs cap or, at least, should wear no logo at all, akin to Catfish Hunter (who divided his career between the Oakland A's and the New York Yankees). No. Maddux was part of a terrific trio. He, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine helped the Braves dominate the National League for more than a decade. If Smoltz and Glavine also decide to retire during this offseason, the trio should enter the Hall of Fame together — all wearing Atlanta Braves caps.

Maddux's retirement reminds me of the hundreds of Braves games I've watched, especially during their streak of 14 consecutive division titles from 1991 through 2005. And thinking about Maddux with Smoltz and Glavine reminds me of another terrific trio that looms over my memory of the 1990s: Dan Farber, Phil Frickey, and Suzanna Sherry. Hall of Famers all, if only our sport enshrined its legends as baseball does.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Braves fan and a big fan of Maddox. Back when I had cable TV, in the early to mid 90s, I watched lots of Braves games on TBS so got to know the team well. (Unlike many other clubs I generally enjoyed the announcers for the Braves, too, making them funner to watch than the Cubs or the White Sox.) But it's funny for them to be the official Moneylaw team since they are really not at all a money-ball club. They have usually been a high-payroll team, and especially were so during their best period, funded by Ted Turner and having their own TV station before that was common. Also, they have long taken a very traditional approach to scouting and to drafting, taking approaches almost completely the opposite of that suggested by Billy Bean. They've been successful, which shows that with good luck and a lot of money you can be successful in many ways. But now that they have less money (no longer owned by Turner) and have had less luck, they are middle of the pack. If their being the official money-law team is just about liking them that's fine, of course, but they have been, and are, a quite traditional big-market club, just a lucky (in the draft and trades) and well-run (but in a fairly traditional way) one.

12/08/2008 9:46 AM  
Blogger Jim Chen said...

Thanks, Matt. The Braves are the official team of MoneyLaw not because of any reliance on Billy Bean's methods (as you point out, the opposite is true), but simply because they have always been my favorite baseball team.

12/08/2008 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's certainly fair enough! (They were one of my favorite teams back when I was able to follow baseball more closely and I still like them.)

I was thinking about this a bit more, though, after I posted, and did think of one particular time when they did something that was not only successful but very interesting, even "money-ball" in a way- when they had good but young and inexperienced pitchers (in the very early '90s) they got a bunch of good fielders (Sid Bream [sp?], Mark Lemke, the guy who used to split time w/ Jeff Blauser at SS who's name I've forgotten, Terry Pendleton, and Otis Nixon. This allowed them to maximize the value of their most valuable assets- Glavin, Smoltz, Avery, and Liebrant. My understanding is that this was intentional. (It certainly helped the Pendleton went on to his better than anyone could have expected!) In that way adding parts that maximize the value of your most valuable assets, even when this is somewhat against the norm, could be a money-ball type move.

12/09/2008 9:17 AM  

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