Before he was outed by Brian McNamee as a steroid user, there were many who thought that Roger Clemens was one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and definitely the greatest pitcher of his era.
I always disagreed.
There was no question that Clemens was a good pitcher. But he had that overwhelming fastball that allowed him to get out of many a jam. Greg Maddux, the man who I thought was better than the Rocket, didn't have that ability.
It's being reported today that Maddux is probably retiring. And that will be a loss to anyone who enjoys watching a master pitcher instead of a master thrower. Maddux didn't have that overwhelming fastball. And his breaking stuff wasn't that great. But the guy was a master of pinpoint control. He was a magician who often could put the ball just exactly where he wanted it.
If he really is retiring, he will finish his career with 355 wins, eighth most all-time, and one more than Clemens. He will finish with 3,371 strikeouts, an amazing number for a guy not known as a strikeout pitcher. He won four ERA titles. He led the NL in wins three times. He won 17 Gold Gloves. He's a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
And if Tom Glavine and John Smoltz also retire during this offseason, then this could spell the end of the careers of three guys who, for most of the 90s, comprised one of the greatest starting rotations in the history of baseball.
A farewell to arms, indeed.