I heard the headline postulating Maddux's case for unanimous selection and thought, "Ok, that's the first time I've heard that question posed about him." And on the day before the results are to be announced?
Greg Maddux is a clear first-ballot-HOFer. He won 355 games with a 3.16 ERA in twenty-three seasons, won a World Series, a record 18 Gold Gloves and is a 4-time Cy Young Award Winner. Even more impressive than those numbers is the fact that Maddux pitched during the apex of the Steroid Era. Though there are no metrics or measureables entailing the discrepancy between a steroid user and a normal player, one can simply look at the numbers to determine the significant increase in offensive efficiency during Maddux's career. Some MLB'ers loved to use the explanation, "Big Muscles don't help you put the bat on the ball." Uh yeah, actually they do. Bigger Muscles equal a quicker bat. More bat speed allows a batter to get to pitches they otherwise would not hit on the sweet spot. And hello, the ball goes further when you have a quicker bat due to greater strength & bat control. Rocket-Science!
A 23 year pitching career in smaller ballparks through the heart of the Steroid Era with a live baseball; an Earned Run Average of 3.16 makes quite an impression when you do the mental math and figure if everything were equal, 400 wins and a 2.50 ERA are probably truer statistics for the "Mad Dog."
Maddux was well-known for his perfect mechanics, superior control, painting corners of the plate, crazy ball-movement and keeping batters off-balance to folly. He was also a notorious clubhouse prankster with a zeal for performing some pretty grotesque gags. Tom Glavine has done several candid interviews describing Maddux's twisted sense of humor, from a positive perspective.
The Defense Rests. But the Prosecution must proceed. He only won 1 World Series. He did not excel in the Post Season. And his questionable clubhouse
character probably endured him to teammates, but to an 'esteemed' BBWAA member it could possibly be seen as sophmoric and below HOF character standards. Sounds pretty lame, but in Hall of Fame voting it only takes 1 in over 500 writers to defeat unanimity.
That's why it's never been done. Babe Ruth could have pitched his way into the Hall, but instead batted. No one else in the history of the game can make that claim but it didn't matter to the BBWAA. Roberto Clemente died feeding natural disaster victims, but still only got 92.69%. Jackie Robinson & Cal Ripken are two players you'd think had a chance at 100%. Nope. They got 77.5 & 98.53 percent.
So a Unanimous Baseball Hall of Fame Selection will probably never happen. And though Greg Maddux was great, he was certainly not the greatest ever. Top 10 yes, but not the best ever. All the fuss over Greg Maddux's HOF vote percentage is pretty laughable to me. Now if Barry Bonds got in on the first ballot that would've pissed me off. Make him and Clemens wait till their 15th year to put them in.