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  • Maddux wins No. 300

  • Walker era begins with 2 W's

By Jeff Mayfield

[AUG. 10, 2004]  Right now the Chicago Cubs are feeling pretty good about themselves. Greg Maddux won his 300th game as he bested the San Francisco Giants 8-4 Saturday in the City by the Bay, which allowed the Cubs to capture command of the NL wild card race. While the Cubs are playing better, I am not sure what all the other teams are doing. They do not seem very motivated.

Maddux, on the other hand, fooled, confused and confounded the Giants at every turn. Though he's lost some velocity on the fastball, he still spots his pitches as well as anyone ever has. He also seems to get outstanding run support in his starts.

The thing that sticks out the most to me, though, is his unbelievable consistency. If he wins 15 games this year, which barring an injury he will, he will have done so for something like 17 consecutive years. That's incredible. A comparison has been floated that if members of the vaunted Oakland A's staff each won 20 games over the next 10 years, they'll barely have 225 victories.

I marvel at what Maddux has accomplished and am just glad that Chicago shipped him to Atlanta in his prime. I also admire Greg's team approach to the game. He is right... His achievements are secondary to doing his job and getting his team to the playoffs. That's why I wanted him to stay in Atlanta… That kind of guy and that kind of presence can be contagious to a ballclub.

At any rate, the LDN commends Maddux on this awesome milestone.

Many media mopes are even saying that he might be the LAST 300-game winner that we will ever see. Those that are in reach are Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. Of that group, it appears that Glavine has the best chance.

One thing the Cardinals needed was another bat, especially a left-handed bat, to make their team the new "Murderer's Row." St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty has done it again by giving up very young, and I might add iffy prospects, for a golden glove former NL MVP! Even if the deal never worked out, it is still a magnificent move, which may be Jocketty's middle name. The Cards, on the other hand, followed up a 5-1 road trip by matching it with a 5-1 homestand. Don't you just hope they continue to play this well during the postseason?

Non-sports item of the week: Did you happen to see the MythBusters this week? They were showing how the prisoners escaped from Alcatraz and reconstructed from FBI files the kind of raft they made out of rain parkas. The amazing thing was that on other shows, the participants never made landfall, and the announcers would just say that the prisoners no doubt drowned or were eaten by sharks. No so fast, my friend… The MythBusters made it! And, I would not be surprised if the prisoners did too. If they were smart enough to bust out, they very likely were smart enough to make it across the bay or to a waiting boat even closer to Alcatraz.

Why has that always been so hard for most people to accept? I have known a lot of prisoners and they were extremely intelligent. Poor choices and decisions seemed to be their Achilles heel. Maybe as a society if we did a better job at instructing youngsters on how to select and make better friends, we would all be better off. I know for me, I feel like I have just been extremely blessed, fortunate or lucky… however you want to assess it. A lot of us were just a couple of wrong friends and a couple of bad decisions from getting in trouble ourselves. How did we get so fortunate?

I am also feeling extremely blessed by God when it comes to this weather. I have asked several senior saints, and THEY say that this has been the nicest or one of the nicest summers they can ever remember. I concur. And, what a great summer for golf, swimming, boating, baseball, softball or whatever, huh?


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My only minor disappointment of the week was not getting to go to the International. I have slumped dramatically in my ticket acquisition prowess over the last five years. Anyway, I had some feelers out for this great golf tourney in Colorado, and of all years, I got tickets for Saturday's third round. The problem was I had way too much work going on here. Plane tickets were also outrageous… so I finished my work and played in another outing out at the Elks (I love that place).

Did you catch any of the Football Hall of Fame coverage? It was quite emotional, as you can imagine. Bob Brown, Carl Eller, Barry Sanders and John Elway were inducted this weekend. You got the sense of why Sanders was so great, because he seems to be such a great person. And whether you like him or not and whether you like the Denver Broncos or not, you have to appreciate the love and the zeal those people have for their franchise and for their players.

I REALLY was glad to see Elway and former coach Dan Reeves mend their relationship and then see them together at the festivities. Life's too short to stay separated from friends. While it is extremely difficult to say those almost unutterable words, "I'm sorry," (and they are almost impossible for me) I cannot think of a time that I was not glad I said them. Why not make this a week to remember (YOUR own Hall of Fame week) and tell someone that you have been separated from for far too long those very same words? I'll bet you'll be glad you did. It appears that Elway and Reeves are.

Speaking of Elway… I would be remiss if I did not share my John Elway story. Former Lincoln resident Craig Zastrow and I took one of my LCC basketball teams to play in a tournament in Colorado. Amazingly, we got tickets for the whole team to see a Broncos game before we caught our flight home. And it wasn't just any Broncos game. It was a game against my beloved Oakland Raiders (I will NEVER fully understand HOW we got tickets for that game).

The Raiders won the game 20-17 and secured the win when they blocked a field goal attempt as time expired. You could hear a pin drop in the stadium except for some wacko in the third deck at the top of Mile High Stadium… I WAS THAT wacko!

Craig and I and the team had a wonderful experience that day. In fact, before the game Craig and I got to meet Al Davis. I would not say that he was all that thrilled to meet us, but maybe he just doesn't show that kind of emotion.

After that meeting, we went down to watch the players warm up for the game. In their old stadium they had a fence that surrounded the field, but fans could get remarkably close to the benches and the action -- maybe within 10 to 15 yards of the actual field. Craig and I wanted to watch Elway throw a few passes.

We were in for an experience that we will both never forget. As we stood just a few yards away from him, he began to zip off some passes to his receivers. They were zipping and humming so loud we could not believe it. They were getting to their intended targets so fast we could barely see the flight of the ball! It was at that point that we realized how good he was and figured he would someday lead his team to a Super Bowl or two. Maybe we should have predicted that.

Oh well, thanks for taking the trip down memory lane with me.

That's it for me…have a great week, everybody!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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