This long feature on SB Nation by Jeremy Collins – Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux – is beautifully written and heartbreaking.
Yes, it’s about Greg Maddux, my favorite baseball player and one of the most enigmatic, masterful athletes of our generation. But it’s mostly about the author coming to terms with the tragic loss of his childhood friend, a friend who was obsessed with and inspired by Greg Maddux.
Maddux was not some physical freak who overpowered batters with strength. He just out-thought and out-executed those he faced. He was a mere mortal who through his own will and savvy and plodding discipline became the best in the game. And he approached the game with an apparent detachment that belied the ferocity with which he performed so fully in the present. When he misfired, a loud profanity punctuated the moment. And then an immediate reset. Back to the moment at hand, calm, calculating. His approach was a Stoic one, dealing with only what he could control and shaking off anything out of his hands.
The story Jeremy Collins tells ties this ideal that Maddux represented, control and mastery, to the tragedy of his friend who reached for that ideal as he grasped for hope in reorienting his young, ill-fated life.
Collins’s piece is well worth the time to read it. You know when you’ve read something that was written with both heart and mastery. This bit of writing is Maddux-like in its artistry. It’s a fitting tribute to a lost friend and to an iconic, inspiring hero. Like a pitch from Maddux, it knicks the edges and moves unpredictably and so effectively.