At a time when the Hall of Fame judgment calls spark steroid suspicions and reignite baseball’s culture wars, the only question about Greg Maddux was whether he would get 100 percent of the vote.
There are the PED witch-hunts and way too many Twitter catfights between bloggers and mainstream media. It’s old school vs. new school, know-it-when-I-see-it gut feelings vs. know-it-all statistical analysis. But by Tuesday morning, Maddux had gone 149-for-149 on the ballots accumulated for Baseball Think Factory’s online exit polling.
[Hardball Talk: Joe Posnanski's Hall of Fame discussion]
And then MLB.com released its staff picks, with Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick only checking Jack Morris, setting off a firestorm in one corner of cyberspace, writing: “As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them.”
[Big League Stew: Maddux won't be unanimous pick for Hall of Fame]
So the Baseball Writers’ Association of America won’t make it a perfect game for Maddux. But when the 2014 class was revealed Wednesday on MLB Network, it was another exclamation point to a career no one could have seen coming in 1984, when the Cubs used a second-round pick on a slender teenager from Las Vegas.
The Maddux Timeline
1984: Drafted 31st overall out of Valley High School, one pick ahead of future Red Sox manager John Farrell and 21 spots behind Mark McGwire, who will struggle to get the 5 percent needed to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot.
1985: Adjusted to his first full year in pro ball by going 13-9 with a 3.19 ERA for Class-A Peoria. He would earn roughly $153 million in his career, according to the salary database at Baseball-Reference.com.
1986: Jumped from Double-A Pittsfield to Triple-A Iowa and made his big-league debut at age 20 that September.
1987: Struggled to make an impact with the Cubs, going 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 30 games (27 starts).
1988: Kicked off the dominant stretch of his career by accounting for 249 innings, nine complete games and three shutouts. At age 22, he earned the first of his eight All-Star selections and went 18-8 with a 3.18 ERA.
1989: Finished third in the National League’s Cy Young vote after going 19-12 with a 2.95 ERA and seven complete games. But that didn’t translate to the NLCS, where he put up a 13.50 ERA in two starts as the Giants won the pennant.
1990: Won the first of 13 straight Gold Gloves.
1991: Led the league in innings (263) and starts (37), anchoring the Cubs rotation with a 15-11 record, 3.35 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.
1992: Captured his first Cy Young Award, notching 20 victories on a 78-win team and putting up a 2.18 ERA and 9.2 WAR.
Dec. 9, 1992: Signed with the Braves, a free-agent decision that would change the trajectory of two franchises.
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1993: Notched his 100th career victory during another Cy Young season, leading the league in ERA (2.36), innings (267), starts (36), complete games (8) and WHIP (1.05). But the Braves lost to the Phillies in the NLCS.
1994: Won his third straight Cy Young and finished fifth in the MVP voting in a strike-shortened season. His 1.56 ERA ranked as the third-best mark since 1919.
1995: Won his fourth straight Cy Young and finished third in the MVP voting with another sub-2.00 ERA (1.63) and an almost unthinkable strikeout-to-walk ratio (209+:23).
1995 World Series: Earned a ring after going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts for the Braves. Tom Glavine – who starred alongside Maddux (and McGwire) in that classic “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” Nike commercial and will likely be part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class – beat the Indians in Games 2 and 6.
1996 World Series: Won Game 2 and posted a 1.72 ERA but the Braves couldn’t stop a Yankees franchise building a dynasty.
1997: Became baseball's highest-paid player after signing a five-year, $57.5 million deal to stay with the Braves.
1998 NLDS: Beat Kerry Wood and the Cubs in a deciding Game 3 at Wrigley Field.
1999 World Series: Lost to Derek Jeter and the Yankees again. Maddux wouldn’t appear on the game’s biggest stage again, finishing at 2-3 with a career 2.09 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in five World Series starts.
Sept. 2-28, 2000: Rattled off 40.1 scoreless innings, the best mark of his career.
Aug. 12, 2001: Set a major-league record by going 70.1 consecutive innings without a walk.
2003: Became the first pitcher to win 15-plus games in 16 consecutive seasons.
March 23, 2004: Signed with the Cubs as a free agent.
Aug. 7, 2004: Became the 22nd player in major-league history to win 300 games.
July 26, 2005: Notched his 3,000th strikeout, becoming just the 13th player in major-league history to hit that magic number.
July 31, 2006: Traded from the Cubs to the Dodgers for Cesar Izturis.
2006: Became the first pitcher to make at least 25 starts in 20 straight seasons, breaking a tie with Glavine, Cy Young and Warren Spahn.
December 2006: Signed a one-year deal with the Padres.
November 2007: Signed another one-year deal with the Padres and set a major-league record by winning his 17th Gold Glove.
Aug. 19, 2008: Traded from the Padres to the Dodgers for Eduardo Perez and Michael Watt.
December 2008: Retired with 355 wins, 3,371 strikeouts, 5,008.1 innings, four Cy Youngs and 18 Gold Gloves on his Hall of Fame resume.
2009: Watched 31 - the number he shared with Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins - get retired at Wrigley Field.
January 2010: Hired as a special assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
August 2011: Reevaluated his role inside the organization after the Cubs fired his good friend Hendry, ultimately deciding to leave again.
November 2011: Hired as a special assistant for the Rangers front office, where he works with his brother Mike, the Texas pitching coach.
July 27, 2014: Induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.