Before closing the door on yesterday's Hall of Fame announcement and the annual controversy that attaches itself like a barnacle, I decided to check how 2014 inductees Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas fared against the Orioles.
In short, quite well.
Maddux went 4-2 with a 3.48 ERA in six starts, with 42 hits allowed, five walks and 20 strikeouts in 44 innings. The real eye-opener comes when examining his 2-0 record and 1.69 ERA in two starts at Camden Yards. He allowed three runs and 12 hits, walked three and struck out eight in 16 innings.
More on him later.
Glavine was 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in four starts against the Orioles, with 23 hits, eight walks and 19 strikeouts in 29 innings. He made one start at Camden Yards, allowing one earned run and seven hits in seven innings, with no walks and three strikeouts.
Thomas batted .309/.435/.603 with 25 doubles, 42 homers and 127 RBIs in 521 at-bats against the Orioles. His 42 homers are tied with the Indians and Tigers for third-most against any team. He slugged 52 against the Twins.
Thomas batted .290/.422/.506 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs in 67 games and 241 at-bats at Camden Yards. He went 7-for-24 with a double, home run and four RBIs in six games at Memorial Stadium.
Maddux provided one of the most impressive pitching performances that I've witnessed since becoming a full-time beat writer in 1997.
The date was June 7, 1998 and I was working at The Sun. The Braves took two of three from the Orioles at Camden Yards after being swept at Turner Field the previous year, and Maddux tossed a four-hit shutout on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to clinch the series.
One reason that the Braves' 9-0 victory stood out for me was it took only 2 hours, 25 minutes to complete. That's National League ball, as my colleague, Joe Strauss, kept reminding me. He came to The Sun from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was a veteran observer of Maddux's economical brilliance. He had little patience for the three hour-plus marathons in the American League.
The series drew 144,227 fans, a record for a three-game set at Camden Yards. The finale produced the first shutout against the Orioles in a major league-best 129 games.
The only hits off Maddux came from Harold Baines, Cal Ripken Jr., Lenny Webster and Mike Bordick. Doug Drabek took the loss for the Orioles.
Maddux walked one and struck out four. He faced only three batters over the minimum, needed only one outfield putout and induced 20 groundball outs.
Maddux entered the game with a 1.85 ERA and left it with a 1.69 ERA. He improved to 73-2 when receiving five runs or more of support.
"There are five or six game plans with Greg Maddux," said manager Ray Miller. "When he's on, none of them work."
The Orioles hadn't been shut out since the White Sox's Jaime Navarro blanked them on July 20, 1997.
"I tell our pitchers that there are three things you can leave the bullpen with - velocity, movement and location," said pitching coach Mike Flanagan. "(Maddux) leaves the bullpen with two every time - location and movement. If ever there was a case you could show a young pitcher that throwing hard isn't the answer, he is it."
Rafael Palmeiro, who dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot yesterday, didn't get a ball out of infield in three at-bats.
"It's a treat to watch a guy like that, even though he's on the other team," Palmeiro said. "When you see a guy pitch that well, it's fun to watch. He's a master. He doesn't have great stuff like Randy Johnson or (Roger) Clemens, but he makes the ball move everywhere and he's always thinking. He's unpredictable."
Maddux's election to the Hall of Fame yesterday was quite predictable.
I feel bad for Craig Biggio, who missed out by two votes. He's the only player in baseball history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs.
Biggio played 20 seasons with the Astros and is a seven-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner and career .281/.363/.433 hitter with 668 doubles, 55 triples, 291 homers and 1,175 RBIs in 2,850 games. He made one All-Star team as a catcher and six as a second baseman. One of his Silver Slugger Awards came as a catcher. He won four Gold Glove Awards at second base.
Biggio finished in the top 10 in MVP voting three times. He led the National League in runs scored twice, doubles three times, stolen bases once, hit-by-pitches five times and plate appearances five times. He led the league in games played in three seasons. He batted .300 or better in four seasons and ranks fifth all-time in doubles with 668 - including first among right-handed hitters.
Biggio also ranks 12th all-time in at-bats with 10,876, 15th in runs scored with 1,844, 16th in games and 21st in hits with 3,060.
Maybe next year.
I'd seriously like to know who gave Armando Benitez, Jacque Jones and Kenny Rogers one vote. If you're not going to take it seriously, don't do it.
There are no perfect ballots, as I've stated, but there are ones that make a mockery of the process.
Shameless plug alert: WBAL Radio is bringing back its "Hot Stove Baseball" show each Thursday night from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. I found out earlier this week that I'll be joining Jim Hunter beginning tonight.
Manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Dave Wallace are scheduled to call into the show.