Maddux = Zero

My most favoritist ballplayer ever is getting his number retired tonight, so today we get one of those “what made Maddux tick” stories, the likes of which have come once or twice every year since the mid 90s. I’m taken with this passage:

Players and coaches always described Maddux’s baseball acumen as almost a sixth sense. Maddux might watch a hitter even as the hitter watched Maddux, but the pitcher always seemed to see more.

Something in a hitter’s stance, the off-balance swing he just took, or maybe something in his eyes told Maddux the batter was expecting a change-up outside. So Maddux threw a fastball inside, and the batter flinched as it tailed back over the edge of the plate for strike three.

But to Maddux, his powers of perception weren’t anything mystical.

“I just felt like I made an effort to do it,” he said.

Having it put just like that makes me realize that both my favorite baseball player and one of my all-time favorite fictional characters have something in common. To wit:

Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you’re only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you’re sure to find some of them.


I always say that the essence of my work relies fundamentally on two basic principles: objectivity and observation, or “the two obs” as I call them. My work relies on my ability to remain absolutely, purely objective, detached. I have mastered the fine art of detachment. And while it comes at some cost, this supreme objectivity is what makes me, I dare say, the greatest observer the world has ever known.

I don’t know why I never put those two two guys together, but it all makes perfect sense now.

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  1. hoopinion said...

    One point for for a Zero Effect reference. One hundred points for a baseball-inspired Zero Effect reference doesn’t use The Case of the Man Who Lied About His Age.

    I still can’t believe Greil Marcus didn’t discuss the film at all in his Bill Pullman essay.

  2. Matthew said...

    I had high hopes that your link was going to take me to Sherlock Holmes’ Wikipedia page. Alas, it did not.

  3. CD said...

    I was sure the first quote was from one of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels ( “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and “The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul”). Both are really funny books, which pre-date Zero Effect by 10 years.

    And after reading the Wiki summary of “The Zero Effect”, it sounds like there is more than a little of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf character in Zero too—the brilliant, reclusive detective with the more worldly sidekick to do the legwork.

    Regardless, Kudos to Maddux!

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