We have judged players by their appearances, and in this time have watched Maddux and Glavine go from phenoms who threw in the 90s to guys who figured out somehow, some way to beat hitters while appearing like a couple of insurance salesmen playing golf at the country club.
This passage pretty much distills why Maddux became my favorite player around 1989 or so. That was the same year, by the way, that I finally came to grips with the fact that I wasn't going to get any bigger, stronger, faster, or more agile, and that I had probably better quit playing baseball because of it. To see someone who looked more or less like I did make batters look silly felt like some sort of vindication, I suppose.
I think that's the same dynamic that leads to sportswriters getting so much more worked up over steroids in baseball as opposed to football. The goons in the helmets and shoulder pads are already freaks, they reason, so why should we care if they trick themselves out further? Ballplayers are supposed to be normal guys, and when they bulk up, the thinking goes, they are taking something away from us. Dashing our fantasies (and they are fantasies) that, if we had worked a little harder when we were 15 or 16, we could be doing what they are doing too.