You’ve probably heard that Greg Maddux is one of the newest members of the baseball Hall Of Fame. Deservedly so. He had an incredible career that included a span where he was otherworldly good. If you would like to hear a little about the philosophy that got him there, you have to have a look at this story at the Washington Post. I particularly enjoyed this example.
First, Maddux was convinced no hitter could tell the speed of a pitch with any meaningful accuracy. To demonstrate, he pointed at a road a quarter-mile away and said it was impossible to tell if a car was going 55, 65 or 75 mph unless there was another car nearby to offer a point of reference.
“You just can’t do it,” he said. Sometimes hitters can pick up differences in spin. They can identify pitches if there are different releases points or if a curveball starts with an upward hump as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. But if a pitcher can change speeds, every hitter is helpless, limited by human vision.
“Except,” Maddux said, “for that [expletive] Tony Gwynn.”
[expletive] Tony Gwynn! The whole thing is great, offering an interesting look at one of the greatest pitchers of our generation.