Ballplayers can be pretty protective of their old numbers. As ESPN.com's Jayson Stark related, when Maddux's ex-L.A. Dodgers teammate Derek Lowe signed with the Atlanta Braves (the silver medal for losing out on A.J. Burnett), he joked with Maddux about taking his No. 31, which the Braves "haven't given ... to anyone else since Maddux exited."
It probably would have gone no farther with most people, but not with Greg Maddux.
"Jokester that he is," Lowe chuckled, "he actually called the Braves and told them he would let me wear No. 31."It times like that the reaffirm baseball kind of cultivates a sense of humour when other sports. Free-associating anything with the recently retired Maddux falls into treating athletes as a rhetorical device, but it's stories such as these which will be rehashed endless when he goes into Cooperstown in 2014.
Maddux even sounded so earnest when he made that call, the Braves totally bought his act. So GM Frank Wren decided he had to intervene.
"I was getting ready to sign with the Braves when Frank texted me," Lowe said, "and he said, 'We have a problem here. We're not really going to give out No. 31.' Was there any other number I'd like to choose?"
So Lowe said he'd take No. 32 if he had to. And you'd have thought that would have been the end of this. But it wasn't.
The Braves were still so unsure who was kidding and who wasn't that when Wren arrived at Lowe's news conference, he got a call from media relations director Brad Hainje. And the question of the day was: "Which uniform are we using -- 31 or 32?" The GM was pretty sure he had the answer, but not quite sure enough.
"So I actually went to Derek at the press conference and said, 'Derek, what's this about 31? Are you really going to wear 31?' " Wren said. "And he looked at me like: 'What the heck are you talking about?' "
So obviously, Lowe is running around this spring, wearing No. 32. But he also has his very own Braves jersey with No. 31 on the back, as the ultimate souvenir.
This, that and the other
- Phillippe Aumont is going to throw a couple innings for Canada at the World Baseball Classic. At the rate Canada is going, you too might have to toe the slab for them.
- Josh Hamilton gave up chewing tobacco. Good for him.
(Link via It Is About The Money, Stupid.