Mad Dog: The Cub of the Nineties

Tomorrow, we will find out who makes up the 2014 class of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. The Veterans’ Committee has already elected three managers to this year’s class: Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre. Now we’re just waiting for the BBWAA to round out this year’s class with players. Last year, the BBWAA inexplicably failed to elect anyone into the Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996, even though there were a few very deserving candidates. I am certain that at least one player will make it in this year, and I am certain he will be a former Chicago Cub.

Greg Maddux will go into the Hall as an Atlanta Brave. There is no disputing that. He won all but one of his Cy Young awards in Atlanta. He had his best years in Atlanta. He won his World Series in Atlanta. But, to Cubs fans, Mad Dog will always be one of us. In many ways, he epitomizes the 1990s Chicago Cubs. We drafted the skinny, glasses-wearing hurler in the second round of 1984. Despite the fact that his agent, Scott Boras, encouraged him to go to college, he signed. In his first full season with the Cubs in 1987, Mad Dog went 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA. We stuck with him. In 1988, Maddux was an all-star. 1989, Maddux finished third in the Cy Young voting, and helped Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg, lead the Cubs to the playoffs. 1990, Maddux wins his first of what would become sixteen Gold Glove awards. In 1991, Maddux started 37 games, the most in all of baseball, while posting a 3.35 ERA. And in 1992, Maddux won 20 games with a 2.18 ERA and his first Cy Young award. In October of the same year, he was granted free agency. In December of the same year, he signed with the Atlanta Braves. The rest is history. Hall of Fame type history.

And, this is why Maddux epitomizes the 1990s for the Cubs. He would go on to win three more Cy Youngs in a row. He helped lead the Braves to ten straight playoff appearances. The Cubs would make the playoffs once in the nineties. It was 1998. They were swept by Greg Maddux and the Atlanta Braves. Despite the fact that Maddux signed with the Braves at the end of the 1992 season, only Steve Trachsel won more games for the Cubs in that decade. That statistic is more pitiful than it even sounds.

Maddux seems to be the only sure thing tomorrow. One expert thinks he will be the only one to get in. However, Baseball Think Factory shows that the early voting results indicate Maddux will be joined by some others including his teammate of ten years, Tom Glavine. It feels fitting that Maddux, Glavine, and Bobby Cox would all go in together. There would be some justice to that. It’s hard to imagine another team winning 14 straight division titles, and all three of those guys deserve a lot of credit.

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