Many high school graduates may have been forced to suffer through a dismal old Anglo-Saxon poem called "The Seafarer." In one stanza of the piece, the lonely narrator reminisces about bygone days.
A contemporary connection would be that today people still look back to the "glory days," when the price of gasoline had a cents sign in front of it, going to school was no more dangerous than going to church and sports heroes were revered for their efforts on the playing field rather than in the bedroom.
Thank goodness we have a few of the good guys left. Hall of Fame-bound pitcher Greg Maddux is one.
I was disappointed when Maddux and Atlanta parted company last year, as I would have liked to have seen the All-Star pitcher reach the 300-win plateau in a Braves uniform.
He hit the mark Saturday as the Chicago Cubs beat the Giants 8-4 in San Francisco. Maddux took the win in usual Maddux style and handled the hype, before and after, with little emotion and fanfare. He said prior to the game that he "guessed he could worry about it and get uptight, but what good would that do?"
After the win he credited his teammates for helping him on the road to 300. Maddux became only the 22nd pitcher to win 300 games in the history of major league baseball and the first National League pitcher to do so in more than 20 years. He is the first Cubs pitcher to do it since 1924. Who knows how long it will be before we see it again? And will it be done by someone as selfless and humble as Greg Maddux?
It has been said that it is Maddux's style to keep a low profile and shrug the attention off, saying that what he does as an individual is not as important as what the team accomplishes. One article I read this weekend reported that another reason Maddux was quiet about the 300th win was because he doesn't believe in celebrating on another team's field. In fact, after reliever LaTroy Hawkins got the final out and secured the Chicago win, Maddux didn't return to acknowledge the cheering Giants crowd. The team win was more important than an individual receiving another ovation.
I'm sure some would argue that Maddux not returning was cheating the crowd, that the fans deserve another look. I don't buy that. The fans in attendance had already been treated to a history-making event.
Without even trying, Greg Maddux has become a role model, and not just for younger fans. How much better off would we be if people just did their jobs and accepted their responsibilities simply for the sake of doing it, and not for the extras that might come their way as a result of the effort.
Team players are needed in order for an operation to be successful. That is the case from little league to the federal government.
Greg Maddux, as good as he is, knows that the sum is greater than the individual parts.
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