In a few hours we will learn whether Greg Maddux has been elected into the Hall of Fame. I don't want to spoil the fun for you, but he'll get in. There's very little doubt about that. (It just won't be unanimous.)
Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post put together a great profile of Maddux, recalling time they spent together in spring training years ago. The right-hander explained how his goal was to have late break on his pitches, not necessarily big break. Changing speeds was important as well.
Boswell explains how, after retiring from the military, Maddux's father moved the family to Las Vegas and became a blackjack dealer. He explained to Greg when he was a kid how the odds were always in favor of the casino and "the house always wins." That's the approach Maddux took to the mound:
Greg Maddux figured out early, and never forgot, that his next pitch was actually the next turn of the (baseball) card. With several pitches, four strike zone quadrants and many changes of speed, the variations were vast. Know their strengths; avoid them. The rest belonged to you — a stacked deck.
But behind every Maddux success was his utter confidence that, with a selection of masterfully controlled pitches that looked identical until the last second, hitters were fundamentally and forever at such a basic disadvantage that he was in complete command of his long-term fate.
“I am the house,” (Maddux) said.
Greg Maddux has been affectionately called a lot of things throughout his career, like an artist or a surgeon because of his precision. Turns out he was just a casino this entire time. A casino with the deck stacked against everyone else. He was the house.