Chicago Cubs: I’m coming home to Sweet Home Chicago
Greg Maddux tossed his last game as an Atlanta Brave on Oct. 3, 2003 against the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the NLDS. He pitched six innings, giving up just two runs but was bested by a stout complete game performance by Chicago’s Cy Young Award runner-up, Mark Prior.
On Feb. 18, 2004, the free agent Maddux signed with Cubs, returning to Chicago after an 11-year absence. Chicago hoped Maddux would be the final key piece to a contending team that fell just one game short of it’s first World Series pennant since 1945. The addition of Maddux bolstered an already formidable rotation that consisted of Prior, Wood, Carlos Zambrano, and Matt Clement.
With his best years in the rearview mirror, Maddux was still a consistent pitcher capable of winning games and eating innings. In his first season back in Chicago, he went 16-11 with a 4.02 ERA. On Aug. 7, Maddux defeated the San Francisco Giants to garner his 300th career victory. I personally nearly witnessed this feat the week before at Miller Park in Milwaukee but his attempt was blown by the late game impotence of one Carlos Marmol.
Although the Cubs won one more game than their deep, memorable run the year prior, they did not qualify for the playoffs after suffering a late-season slide.
The 2005 season saw Maddux’s production dip further, winning 13 games, ending his consecutive streak of at least 15 wins in a season at 17. His 13-15 record also marked his first losing season since 1987. However, at the age of 39, he still led the league in starts with 35.
After a 9-11 start, the Cubs traded Maddux for the first time in his career at the 2006 trade deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers who were in the thick of a playoff race. After the season, he signed with the San Diego Padres on a one-year deal with an option for two. He was traded for the second time in his career in Aug. 2008, back to Los Angeles. After the Dodgers were defeated in five games in the NLCS, Maddux hung up his cleats and called it a career.