Day: December 7, 2008

Farewell to a Great Pitcher

I just learned that Greg Maddux – perhaps the smartest pitcher ever in Major League Baseball – has decided to retire at age 42.  As a long-time Atlanta Braves fan, I followed his career closely.  Those four Cy Young awards in a row? Amazing.  Those 355 career wins (more than any living player)?  Just as mind numbing in this age of the specialist.  Finishing number 10 on the all-time strikeout list?  Now that’s a stat that really does shock me, because I never think of Maddux as a strikeout pitcher.  But I do think of him as just the smartest guy on the field at all times. ESPN’s web site has a great column on Maddux written by Gene Wojciechowski.  He includes a wonderful story about Maddux’s smarts: In 1996, just before Maddux and the Atlanta Braves faced the New York Yankees in the World Series, pitching coach Leo Mazzone met with his starters and relievers and read them the detailed scouting reports. Maddux raised his hand after Mazzone read the report on Yankees slugger Bernie Williams. “That …

Playing Music

Playing music with friends over Thanksgiving has pushed me to reorder my schedule to find even more time to play.  And – no surprise here – I’ve loved it.  I’m reacquainting myself with some of the playing of Norman Blake (check out the Nashville Blues video below of Norman and the Rising Fawn String Ensemble) and other musicians I admire. In the delightful book Practicing, author and musician Glenn Kurtz says, For me, sitting down to play has very little to do with discipline.  “It isn’t just education and discipline that makes one so devoted to work…it is simple joy.  It is one’s natural sense of well-being, to which nothing else can compare.”  Love of music brings me to the practice room. I am finding that joy in playing again and it is a wonderful feeling. So I’m off to play a bit now, and then tomorrow evening I’ll be at the Celtic Christmas concert of the Institute of Musical Traditions for some great acoustic guitar by Al Petteway and Robin Bullock.  If you’re in the Washington, …