Results tagged ‘ Randy Johnson ’

Been there, seen that – Unit edition

Randy Johnson’s retirement again hits the reset button on my personal perspective machine. Iconic athletes retire, you feel older, your appreciation grows for the life you’ve led.
That’s one of the wonderful things about the privilege of being a chronicler of sports and its personalities. There is no shortage of milestones on this yellow brick road.
The Big Unit and I spun in parallel orbits for nearly a quarter century, crossing paths only occasionally. This held true down to the finish.
On Sept. 22, I got to witness the last time Johnson struck out the side. It came in a one-inning relief appearance against the Diamondbacks in Chase Field, three subsequent relief outings from the end of his line.
Pretty significant, considering how many times the fearsome lefty fanned the side in his 4,135 innings. But it falls way short of other occasions where history and I happened to intersect — Johnson’s retirement is just another excuse for reflecting on them.
For instance, I am positive to have been the only person to have been on site for — not to mention the only reporter to have covered — each of these:
  • Nolan Ryan’s last five strikeouts. 

Came in seven four-hit innings against the Angels on Sept. 17, 1993 — five days before he tore an elbow ligament and walked off the Kingdome mound without having retired any Mariners, never to return. This was four years after the end of my newspaper career and into my decade as a magazine freelancer, but I was covering the game for The Associated Press.

  • Hank Aaron’s last home run.

Came on July 20, 1976 in Milwaukee’s County Stadium, in the seventh inning off Dick Drago. I just happened to be there, making a trip in relief of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner’s Angels beat writer, Dick Miller. Then Aaron just happened to play his next, and last, 24 games without again going deep, leaving the new magic number at 755.

  • Aaron’s 715th home run.
The one that broke Babe Ruth’s record. April 8, 1974 … Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium … fourth inning, off Al Downing. In my first full year on the Herald staff, beloved sports editor Bud Furillo assigned me to accompany legendary baseball writer Bob Hunter on the Dodgers’ first roadtrip of the season, with the expectancy of history in the air.
  • Barry Bonds’ 756th homer.
 The one that broke the record I’d seen Aaron set 33 years earlier. August 7, 2007 … AT&T Park … fifth inning, off Mike Bacsik. I was assigned there by MLB.com earlier in the week, with instructions to hang until BB slew the record. My vigil was a lot briefer than that of the other BB in this equation — Barry Bloom.
Not a bad confluence of a forgettable man and unforgettable moments. 

Here’s a tip: Don’t have a cow

Off the top of my head … 

Unlike Alex Rodriguez, I’ve never been accused of pitch-tipping. However, there was that one summer in the country when we did a lot of cow-tipping. … 
Ironic, isn’t it? One minute, we learn that the staff of a well-known restaurant chain hated A-Rod because he didn’t tip, the next we’re told he tipped on the field. Maybe the guy just gets confused occasionally and doesn’t know where he is. … 
tipthewaiterdanreynoldsxp5.jpg
Headline: “Nats see light at end of tunnel.” Well, I hope they can get off the tracks before the train gets too close. … 
I recently speculated on mlb.com that Randy Johnson, who regrets not being able to close his 300-win deal while pitching for his hometown Diamondbacks, may yet get the opportunity to post the milestone “W” in Phoenix. The Giants will return to Chase Field on June 9 and Johnson — currently sitting on 297 — could come home at 299.
Well, you can probably scratch that scenario. Following that June 9-11 series, the Giants will return to AT&T Park, to host the neighboring A’s in an Interleague series, no less. Bruce Bochy would be certain to manipulate his rotation so the Big Unit can go for magic number at home. …
Gotta admit, am a bit confused why Adam Dunn’s oops “Natinals” game jersey would fetch $8,000 at auction. If misspelled words have become so pricey, most email writers and blog authors would be filthy rich. Dan Quayle’s memoirs would bring more than a Picasso. …
Mariners fans sent one of those recordable get-well cards to the Seattle reliever disabled the other day with biceps tendinitis: “… Soon enough, the call will go out To … Morrow. …”
When Adrian Beltre was going through free agency a few years ago, agent Scott Boras’ legendary dossier compared him to Mike Schmidt, Rodriguez and other all-time third base greats. Now, he is already comparing high school pitcher — and top draft pick-in-waiting — Stephen Strasburg to the fictional Sidd Finch.
Any truth to the rumor Scott cut his representation teeth as a theatrical agent who pushed Gary Coleman as “the next Sidney Poitier”? … 
Sorry, I reached the bottom of my head. Later … 

K-Rod: A lap dog

Off the top of my head … 
Francisco Rodriguez may be on his way to lapping the historical closers’ field. By the time K-Rod is done, Trevor Hoffman, who right now has 69 more save than anyone else, might need a Hubble telescope to see the new career leader.
It’s all about consistency (not a staple in the closers’ community) and age. K-Rod was precocious when he ambushed the field in the 2002 postseason, and he has used that youth to pave his record track.
The basics:
Rodriguez, who turned 27 in January, entered this season with 208 saves. The current career Top Ten, from Hoffman (554 saves) to Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers (341), began their age-27 season with an average of 32.5 saves.
The breakdown of saves entering the season in which they were/turned 27:
  1. Hoffman (554): 25
  2. Mariano Rivera (485): 5
  3. Lee Smith (478): 80
  4. John Franco (424): 77
  5. Dennis Eckersley (390): 3
  6. Billy Wagner (385): 32
  7. Jeff Reardon (367): 16
  8. Troy Percival (354): 3
  9. Randy Myers (347): 32
  10. Fingers (341): 52. …

New Yankee Stadium: So what’s keeping the ladies? When are Destiny and Aura moving in, or are the Bombers on their own now? …

CC Sabathia / A.J. Burnett: Money is money, I know, but do you suppose these guys at least might’ve thought a little harder about signing with the Yankees had they known they’d now be playing home games in the moon’s atmosphere? … 
Sabathia: Hey, CC, pinstripes are supposed to make you look slimmer, not make your pitches look fatter. …
Carlos Quentin: Seven homers by April 19? Spin it all you want, he could have made the postseason difference for the White Sox, had he not snapped in early September and broken his wrist slapping his own bat. … 
Top 3, Carlos Edition: Santana, Delgado, Pena. … 
Jason Giambi: There is something symmetrical about his career. He began this season having split his career between the A’s and Yankees, seven seasons with each. And he is No. 10 on the homer lists of both teams (though his 187 places him closer to Mark McGwire’s 363 than does the 209 to Babe Ruth’s 659). … 
Randy Johnson: Guess the one-time fireballer wasn’t kidding about re-learning to pitch in an age-relevant style. The 45-year-old consistently topped out at 87-88 MPH while carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning Sunday against the D-backs. …
Sorry, I’ve reached the bottom of my head. Later … 
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