For your consideration, in the category of important dates in Dodgers history: June 6 and July 31, 2006.
On June 6, the Dodgers drafted Clayton Kershaw out of high school.
On July 31, they traded for Greg Maddux.
Not a bad couple months.
Maddux won’t be a unanimous first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, but he’ll probably come close. The Hall of Fame class of 2014 will be announced Wednesday and, barring a stunning comeback by Mike Piazza (currently polling at 67.7 percent), Maddux will be the only former Dodger going into Cooperstown this year.
I talked to Dodgers president Stan Kasten about Maddux and his legacy. Kasten was president of the Atlanta Braves during Maddux’s prime, which included a run of four straight Cy Young Awards, three straight ERA titles, and no less than 15 wins every season from 1988 to 2004. Take a moment to soak all that in.
Here are a couple tidbits about Maddux’s career that won’t make my story for Thursday’s editions:
“We weren’t sure we were going to get him,” Kasten said of pursuing Maddux in free agency in 1992. “The Yankees did outbid us substantially, but he decided he didn’t really want to play in that environment. He had a really good friend on our team, Damon Berryhill, who used to catch to him in Chicago. Damon told him how great the organization and environment was in Atlanta.”
Only one thing gave Kasten any pause about signing the pitcher to a five-year, $28 million deal.
“He wasn’t the cleanest medically,” Kasten said, “but we had good doctors, doctors with opinions we trusted. They signed off on him.”
Maddux only went on the disabled list once in 23 seasons. Maybe he played through more pain than anyone realized.
Some bullet points for a St. Distaff’s Day:
• Which current Dodger is already a lock for the Hall of Fame?
• Two veterans who last appeared in the major leagues as Dodgers are plotting their returns: Ramon Hernandez with the Kansas City Royals and Bobby Abreu with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians already signed Matt Treanor this winter.
• The Yankees are under more pressure than perhaps any team — symbolically, if not practically — to sign Tanaka.
• Not a recent article, but worth revisiting today: A former USC player and coach believes that baseball’s steroid era began no later than the 1960s.
• From the numbers-don’t-lie department: “Power is more important than walks when it comes to being a pinch-hitter, but being a good hitter is more important than power.” Lots of numbers to wrap your head around in that article, but something to keep in mind if the choice for the Dodgers’ final bench spot comes down to, say, Scott Van Slyke and Dee Gordon.
• Skip to the 5:21 mark of this mashup. Rihanna vs. M83 vs. TLC vs. Incubus vs. The Eagles. That is all: