So, straight from the home office in Gainesville, Florida, here are the Top 10 Greg Maddux moments...">
So, straight from the home office in Gainesville, Florida, here are the Top 10 Greg Maddux moments...">

Top 10 Greg Maddux Moments

With Greg Maddux picking up his 300th career victory last Saturday in decidedly "un-Maddux-esque" fashion, there have already been thousands upon thousands of words spilled on the topic. I can't add anything of value, but I can add some memories.<BR><BR> So, straight from the home office in Gainesville, Florida, here are the Top 10 Greg Maddux moments...

10. "The Debut" -- September 3, 1986: Maddux wasn't even a starter when he made his major league debut on September 3 of '86 against the Houston Astros. He suffered the loss as the last of nine Cubs pitchers to take the mound in a game that lasted 18 innings and spanned two days.

9. "Game Three" -- October 3, 2003: Mark Prior vs. Greg Maddux didn't turn out to be the thoroughly brilliant pitcher's duel we could have hoped for, but it was still an experience worth remembering. Maddux pitched well, and if not for a Robert Fick error and a Randall Simon bloop single in the bottom of the first inning, he might have had better results. Prior was typically dominating. For the sentimental types, "Game Three" cemented the passing of the torch from the brilliant veteran to the promising young star.



8. "Mirror, Mirror" -- May 29, 2000: Jon Lieber was absolutely sensational against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field, throwing eight innings, striking out 12 and walking only one. Unfortunately for Lieber and the Cubs, his one mistake of the day came to Andres Galaragga, who homered to straight-away center field after Braves third baseman Chipper Jones had been ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Maddux was vintage Maddux, throwing a complete game shutout with eight Ks and two walks. He took only two hours and 21 minutes to do it.

7. "The First Win" -- September 7, 1986: It wasn't pretty, and the peripherals shouldn't have added up to success, but Maddux's first career major league victory was also his first career major league complete game. He allowed 11 hits, three walks and a homerun in those nine innings, but when Sal Butera grounded into the game-ending double play in the ninth, no one cared--let alone the Cincinnati Reds.

6. "The Return" -- April 5, 1993: Atlanta received their money's worth when Maddux made his first start in a Braves uniform--in Chicago, against the Cubs. The pitcher for whom the term "journeyman" was coined, Mike Morgan, pitched valiantly in opposition, but Maddux was too brilliant. Two hours, 25 minutes and some 80 pitches later, Maddux picked up his first Atlanta win in a 1-0 Braves' victory. It wasn't a complete game; Mike Stanton came on in the ninth to close it out, but Maddux was well on his way to his second Cy Young, and Cubs fans were well on their way to another decade of annoying incompetence.

5. "Playoff Magic" -- October 16, 1996: Something both Cubs and Braves fans can appreciate: Brilliance against the Cardinals. With Atlanta down three games to one at one point during the '96 NLCS, the Braves needed Maddux to step up in game six. He responded with 7 2/3 innings, one earned run, seven Ks, and of course, no walks. The Braves would win the game, 3-2, with relief help from Mark Wohlers, and would finish off the Cards the next day with a 15-0 pasting against Donovan Osborne.




4. "Damn you, Eric Gregg!" -- October 12, 1997: This was not a particularly pleasant day for Maddux and the Braves, but it wasn't Maddux's fault. In a game emblematic of his postseason career with Atlanta, Maddux pitched brilliantly (7 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K), but found himself on the losing end of Livan Hernandez' rendezvous with Gregg's massive, planet-sized strike zone. Hernandez struck out 15, with the last coming on a curveball to Fred McGriff that was further right than Pat Buchanan. Maddux could only sit and watch.

3. "World Series Magic, Part I" -- October 21, 1996: Atlanta ended the 1996 season with the best record in the National League, and came into the World Series against the New York Yankees as heavy favorites. Things followed form in the first two games, with a 19-year-old outfielder named Andruw Jones sounding an enthusiastic greeting in Game One, and Maddux living up to the hype in Game Two. Jimmy Key didn't pitch poorly, but Maddux was thoroughly dominant in Yankee Stadium, throwing eight effortless innings of shut-out ball and seemingly putting the Braves on the fast track to consecutive World Series victories.

2. "World Series Magic, Part II" -- October 21, 1995: Exactly one year before his Bronx excellence, Maddux shut down the Cleveland Indians offensive juggernaut, which led the American League in runs scored, batting average, OBP and slugging percentage. Maddux got some help from Fred McGriff and out-dueled Orel Hershisher, allowing no earned runs in his complete game performance. The victory in Game One of the World Series put the Braves on the right track and set them on a course for their only championship title of the 90's.

1. "The Culmination" -- August 7, 2004: The worst outing on the list is ironically the greatest moment of one of the greatest careers. Too many walks, not enough strikeouts, only five innings, and an ERA for the game that wasn't worthy of Maddux. And yet it was a game that put the final stamp of approval on a brilliant career. He didn't need 300 to validate anything, but it was an exclusive club he entered on Saturday. Perhaps when all is said and done, more will realize that Maddux belongs to an even more exclusive club: The discussion of who the greatest pitcher in the history of the game truly is.

If there are any games or moments from Maddux's career that you felt were wrongfully excluded from this list, send them to AndrewBare29@hotmail.com.

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