Farewell to a sports genius

Greg Maddux is announcing his retirement Monday. One of the more tragic among many tragic of my days as a Cubs fan was when Larry Himes got cheap with the greatest homegrown pitching talent in Cubs history and let Maddux leave to go to the Braves after he'd just won a Cy Young in 1992. If I ever ran into Himes on the street I'd punch him in the face.

There was no pitcher I enjoyed watching more; he elevated pitching to an art. He never threw extremely hard, and his effortless motion and small frame left it easy for any amateur to picture himself as Maddux on the mound, taking on hulking batters at the plate. There is an elegance to sports genius that draws more heavily on the mind than raw physical talent. Not that it isn't physically impressive for Maddux to be able to make locate a fastball with such accuracy, or to make it move so much, or to field his position so well. It's just that even before he threw a single pitch to a batter, you felt he was ahead strategically.

I hope he'll come back to be a pitching coach or advisor for the Cubs someday, or that he'll write a book about how he broke down each batter in his head.