by Tom Swift

The more [Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg] Maddux’s physical skills decline, the deeper he must plumb his mental well to stay sharp. At that he is unrivaled. He is, for instance, a voracious observer. He can often tell what a hitter is thinking by where he stands in the batter’s box, how he takes practice swings, how he fouls off a pitch or takes a pitch.

“It’s like kids at school — some pay more attention than others,” [Chicago Cubs bench coach Dick] Pole says. “He’s on a different level from everybody else when it comes to attention.”

-Tom Verducci, “Heady Stuff,” Sports Illustrated, 8-9-2004