Maddux: "My wife Kathy and I grew up in baseball in Chicago, and then we had just an amazing experience in Atlanta with the Braves. It's impossible for me to choose one of those teams for my Hall of Fame plaque, as the fans of both clubs in each of those cities were so wonderful. I can't think of having my Hall of Fame induction without support of both of those fan bases, so, for that reason, the cap on my Hall of Fame plaque will not feature a logo."
Although I usually take people at their word, something just doesn't ring true with Maddux not going in as Brave, and I will outline historical evidence as to why there's something else going on behind the scenes. I view this as a slap in the face to the Braves fans, and by opting out of any logo, he's not honoring anyone, just himself. Is it pure ego? After all Greg was one of the first players to have private suites. Do we really believe he cares about the support from Cubs fans back in the 1980s? Are we to take it face value that because he could not be a Hall of Famer without both fanbases that he will not honor either of them?
Now, this does not mean that the Braves can't claim one of their players has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, of course, BUT they can't officially list him as a Hall of Fame Brave (if that makes any sense to you). It would be like the NY Mets claiming Nolan Ryan, though. The Hall of Fame is saying that if a player was great for multiple franchises the player and the HOF will work out which team he contributed more with, and if none could be selected the "blank cap" will be selected. Frankly someone like Mike Piazza, Goose Gossage, Dave Winfield, or Gary Sheffield would be better choices for blank caps than Greg Maddux. Right?
Unfortunately there have been some inconsistencies with HOF cap policy. I realize this whole topic is truly trivial in the grand scheme of the world, but it's analyzing the little things like this which make the DailySkew memorable.
For example, Nolan Ryan chose a Texas Rangers cap to be on his HOF plaque instead of the California Angels. As Ryan had success with the Angels, Astros, and Rangers, the Hall had no problems with Ryan representing his hometown and the franchise which featured The Ryan Express hurling no-hitter #7. However his Rangers run fails in comparison to his Angels run, when he was in his prime- by a long shot. Heck, his Astros cap would have been a more logical pick than the Rangers, but it's possible Ryan had far-reaching political reasons for wanting to choose the Rangers.
Catfish Hunter made a political statement by opting out of wearing an A's cap because of heat he had with owner Charlie O. Finley. His Yankees run was good, but short, and it wouldn't be fair to his fans on the West Coast to opt for a New York cap on his plaque. However, the HOF allowed him to opt out with no problems, even though he was clearly an A's HOF'er
Although Reggie Jackson is famous for being Mr. October in pinstripes, he played 5 more years in Oakland, and chose the Yankees cap specifically because the A's had fired him as a coach.
So in these cases, the players had free reign, and all of them valued and realized how important it is for their favorite FRANCHISE LOGO to be on the plaque.
Yet the Hall of Fame rejected Wade Boggs' request to have the Tampa Bay Rays logo, and the Hall said it would be up to them from now on, and not have player input, or at least it was implied that the stats had to justify it. (Rumors of the Rays paying Boggs off have never been proven.) The other issue with this in 2001 was that the HOF acted as if they were simply reinforcing their policy, as opposed to making a new rule. In that case, the above examples I listed (and there may be more) were in violation.
Gary Carter's HOF cap also caused a stir. He originally wanted to go in as an Expos player as the Mets kept passing him over for a managerial job and I guess were ignoring his legacy, but as induction came near and the NY press was campaigning for him, he switched to the Mets. But the Hall of Fame was enforcing its company line. Here was the official statement at the time:
"We want to have represented on the plaque the team that best represents where a player made the biggest impact in his career. When you look at it, it's very clear. Gary Carter is an important part of the history of the Expos". [Think about Maddux with that quote....]
Carter did not insist on "no logo" like Maddux. The stats justified the Expos, but he became a household name and World Champion with the Mets. Carter joked that he wanted "half-and-half". So although the Mets have had players work for them who are in the HOF, only Tom Seaver has a Mets hat in the HOF. To add insult to injury, the Washington Nationals claim Gary Carter represents their franchise. Just so I'm clear: I'm OK with Carter being a HOF Expo, but he seemed to be hedging, but the HOF insisted on an Expos cap, and he could have opted for none, but he realized opting for none actually is disrespectful to both teams. (It's also possible he was just juggling and didn't want to hurt Mets fans and reporters.)
Bruce Sutter could have flipped a coin for the Cubs or Cardinals or opted for no cap, or have been forced to have no logo. Instead he went with-or was forced to go with- the Cards.
Andre Dawson is the final example I will discuss, although there may be more. He wanted to have a Cubs hat, but the Hall insisted on an Expos hat. Like Carter, he had better stats and more seasons with the Expos, but was just as famous with the Cubs, but the Hall overrode his personal choice.
The HOF specifically tried to downplay Maddux's odd decision by saying, "Eight current Hall of Famers -- Catfish Hunter, Andy Cooper, Frank Grant, Pete Hill, Biz Mackey, Luis Santop, Ben Taylor and Cristobal Torriente -- do not have cap logos on their plaques." The problem with that comment is that everyone on that list except Hunter was long dead when they were inducted. It's without precedent for a living player. I am assuming that those Negro Leaguers were long gone. Therefore Maddux becomes the second person to opt out, with Catfish doing it because he hated his team's owner. Hmmmm...
Based on the importance of the cap choice for the men I mentioned, I believe Greg Maddux is driving home a point to the Atlanta Braves organization. First of all, hardly any Cubs fans would have felt slighted about Maddux going in the Hall with a Braves cap. It should have been a no-brainer for Maddux, especially with fellow Braves Cox and Glavine going in the same year! Manager Tony LaRussa also opted out this year because he was identified with both the A's and Cardinals, although I would have chosen the Cards if I were him. I'm not confused about LaRussa's decision.
Maddux's Cubs run, although great, can't compare statistically to his Braves run, so please don't try and claim they are equal. In fact Maddux could have been elected based on his Atlanta run only. Based on the track records of players and the HOF, the no logo choice is a huge snub to the Atlanta Braves front office and its fans.
If I had to speculate on Maddux's motive for snubbing the Braves, it may be due to some comments Glavine made about the Braves (specifically John Schuerholz and the fans during the strike) in "Living on the Black". That general manager really had intense and sometimes ugly contract negotiations with Glavine and Smoltz, and I assume Maddux may have had tough contract negotiations as well when he left the Braves. Perhaps Bobby Cox didn't want to retire, and Maddux is projecting anger. Perhaps Maddux is protesting pitching coach Leo Mazzone being blacklisted and never rehired. Ironically Glavine is on the front office payroll. I'm sure he knows the real reason. As it stands now, Braves fans do not, and are scratching their heads.