Turn Off Ads?
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 31

Thread: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

  1. #1
    Go Reds Go! UKFlounder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Northern KY
    Posts
    1,877

    Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Sorry if I missed this here, but I enjoyed this Jayson Stark article, especially Johnson's last comment about needing only 211 more to catch Cy Young.


    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/column...son&id=4232567

    WASHINGTON -- It was a baseball game to stow in your favorite time capsule, a baseball game to freeze in your memory bank.

    Well, maybe not the baseball game itself. That one got a little wet and a little messy. But the image of the man on the mound -- that's a sight we shouldn't forget.

    So this is what a 300-game winner looks like.

    On a waterlogged Thursday in June, Mr. Randall David Johnson, the greatest 6-foot-10 left-hander of our (or anybody's) lifetime, added his name to the exalted 300-Win Club with a 5-1 San Francisco Giants victory over everybody's favorite victims, the Washington Nationals.

    There are 23 other men, five other left-handers and (with the abrupt release of Tom Glavine in Atlanta) no other active pitchers in that 300-Win Club. But it's very possible the next member of that club hasn't even been born yet.

    So savor this one. Savor the moment. Savor the feat. And savor the brilliance of the man whose career will now be defined by this magical round number.

    For weeks now, Johnson has been downplaying the meaning of this historic deed. And even as he sat in the dugout in the ninth inning, watching closer Brian Wilson finish this one off, his expression was so stone-faced, you'd have thought this was win No. 48, not win No. 300.

    But then Wilson pumped strike three past Washington's Wil Nieves. Teammates began pounding the Big Unit on the back. And when Randy Johnson popped up the dugout steps, his arm around his son, Tanner, the smile on his face let you know this was not just another night in Unit-hood.

    "I think it kind of hit me when I walked on the field," Johnson said afterward, as relaxed in front of the microphones as you'll ever find him. "It's a long-range achievement. It's not a one-game or one-year achievement. It's a career achievement. … So I'll be thinking about this one for a long time. I'm glad I won't be pitching again for a few days."

    At 45 years and 9 months old, Johnson is the second-oldest 300-game winner ever (behind only Phil Niekro, who got there at 46). But when the skies over Washington finally parted -- after a mere 22 hours of monsoon madness -- and the Big Unit finally made it to the mound, he reminded us all one more time what a formidable force he's been these past 21 years.

    He allowed just two hits in six remarkably efficient innings. And we've sure seen that before. It was the 42nd time in 597 starts that Johnson has gone that many innings and given up that few hits.

    He even took a no-hitter into the fifth inning -- the 43rd time he has done that in his relentlessly unhittable career. Asked later whether the idea of a no-hitter -- in a 300th win -- ever danced through his head, Giants manager Bruce Bochy spoke for the planet when he replied: "With all he's done? Sure, it does cross your mind."

    It took a broken-bat Elijah Dukes single up the middle to bust up that no-hitter. And it took a sixth-inning Edgar Renteria throwing error to give the Nationals their only run.

    But that still means Johnson allowed zero earned runs -- making him the first pitcher since Niekro in 1985 to give up no earned runs in win No. 300. For the record, that would be the 98th time in those 597 starts that this man went six or more and forgot to allow an earned run. Yeah, the 98th.

    "And the thing is, he's reinvented himself, too," Bochy said. "He's not out there now trying to power his way or bull his way through lineups. He's more of a pitcher now."

    When a man reaches the top of a mountain this special, it's natural to look out and survey all he has done to get here. But in Randy Johnson's case, what hasn't he done?

    He has spun a no-hitter in his 20s and a perfect game in his 40s. He has won Game 6 and Game 7 of the same World Series (2001). He has collected five Cy Young trophies.

    He has beaten all 30 teams. He has won games in 42 ballparks. He has unfurled a 20-strikeout game, two 19-strikeout games, and 25 other games in which he whiffed 15 or more hitters.

    He has struck out Rickey Henderson 30 times and Sammy Sosa 25 times. He has punched out a father-and-son combination (Gary and Daryle Ward) twice apiece. He has ripped off five straight 300-strikeout seasons.

    He has beaten eight Cy Young Award winners. He has beaten two Perez brothers (Melido and Carlos). And he has beaten a cast of pitchers who spanned a hundred generations -- from Dave LaPoint to Daisuke Matsuzaka, from Danny Darwin to Daniel Cabrera, from Teddy Higuera to Ted Lilly.

    Oh, and one more thing. Randy Johnson has spent the past two decades pretty much terrorizing those poor hitters who had to stand 60 feet away from him.

    "There's nothing fun about facing him," said the Nationals' Adam Dunn, whose 0-for-3 day against the Unit made him 1-for-15 lifetime, with eight whiffs, against this man. "There's nothing fun about it at all. I mean, he's 8 feet tall, and when he comes from the side like that, it looks like the ball's coming from first."

    Hmmm, "first," he said? As in first base?

    "No," Dunn replied. "The first row."

    As it turned out, though, the most significant pitch Dunn saw all day Thursday wasn't even delivered by Johnson himself.

    It was thrown by Wilson, with two outs in the eighth inning, the bases loaded and Johnson's one-run lead (at the time) looking almost as shaky as Tony La Russa's Twitter account.

    With Johnson back in the trainer's room, watching on TV, Wilson ran the count to 3 and 2, then whooshed a fastball up there that appeared to be more shin-high than knee-high.

    Dunn flipped his bat away and started toward first with what looked like a game-tying, milestone-obliterating, bases-full walk. But it was then that plate ump Tim Timmons' hand pumped toward the drizzle-saturated sky.

    So an inning-ending strike three went into the books. And No. 300 was just a three-run, ninth-inning Giants rally, and three ninth-inning Brian Wilson punchouts away from being official.

    Afterward, Dunn ascended to new diplomatic heights as he dodged all attempts to elicit any second-guessing of Timmons' call. Asked if he thought there were any (ahem) historic implications that might have swayed Timmons to call that pitch a strike, Dunn replied: "Come on. Tim's not going to think that quick. He thought it was a strike. And therefore, it was a strike."

    When Dunn's dogged media inquisitors then helpfully pointed out that because it was called a strike, it had allowed him to play a "different" kind of part in baseball history, Dunn replied: "If that goes down in history, then baseball needs to have new history."

    "I'll give you this," Dunn conceded, finally. "If he doesn't win another game the rest of his career, then I'll say it's a historic. But there's a gooooood chance he's probably going to win another one."

    Yeah, could be. And 50 years from now -- or possibly even 15 minutes from now -- no one will ever recall that pivotal pitch. And even more certainly, they won't remember the 2.8 trillion rain drops that seemed to represent even a greater threat to Johnson's rendezvous with history.

    Thanks to those rain drops, the Unit spent somewhere in the vicinity of 12 hours hanging out in his clubhouse Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon waiting for the deluge to end. And as it turned out, the waiting really was the hardest part of this extravaganza.

    "It was difficult," Johnson said afterward, "because you knew what was at stake. And you just want everything to go well. I mean, I told everybody who came to the game, when they got their tickets, `You've got to read the fine print.' It says no win is guaranteed."

    In this case, just getting to the mound wasn't even guaranteed. But finally, after nearly four hours of delays the night before and another 36-minute pregame hold-up Thursday afternoon, the tarp came off. So out came the Unit to begin his quest.

    Let the record show it was 5:17 p.m. local time -- or 22 hours and 12 minutes after this game was originally scheduled to begin. It would be a stretch to claim a thousand people were in the seats. And exactly 13 customers occupied the entire section directly behind home plate.

    This was the day Randy Johnson had waited all his baseball life for?

    But once he got out there, he was zoned in, and none of that mattered. It took him only 78 pitches to zip through six innings. And had it not been for what might be the most acrobatic play of his career, Johnson might even have made it through all nine innings.

    His Cirque du Soleil act ensued when pinch-hitter Anderson Hernandez led off the sixth inning with a one-hopper back to the box. Johnson swatted it with his glove, spun to his left, grabbed, lunged and fired to first base for a spectacular out. "My senior moment," he would quip later.

    He made it through the inning. But afterward he told the trainer that he'd bruised his shoulder. So he headed for the nearest ice pack, and the bullpen had to sweat through the final nine outs before this milestone moment was official.

    But when the bruise subsides, it will be the magnitude of his feat that will linger. And even Johnson himself seemed to get swept up in it.

    "I think I've got a greater appreciation for the game now," he said, "probably over the last 10 or 15 years. Because when I was doing something and I was being compared to somebody else -- Sandy Koufax or Steve Carlton, people whom I've met, that I was actually in awe of when I had an opportunity to meet them -- or Nolan [Ryan], who I feel like I have a good friendship with … when your name is in the same sentence with them … I have a greater appreciation for what I'm doing, because I know now how hard it is to get there."

    Well, he's there, all right. And he's about to discover the coolest thing yet about that 300-Win Club is:

    Once you've checked in, you don't ever check out. And the more Randy Johnson contemplated that thought, the more overwhelming it got.

    "I've played 21-22 years," he said. "I'm 45 years old. I've come upon 300 wins. And I'm thinking, I've only got 211 more to catch Cy Young."

  2. Turn Off Ads?
  3. #2
    Member cumberlandreds's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Sterling VA
    Posts
    9,069

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    I watched this game. I got home about the time it started so it fit in perfectly for the evening. I didn't think they would even play. When I left work at 3 pm in DC it was pouring the rain and it was expected to rain all evening. But there was enough of of a window of drizzly rain to get this one in. Johnson was on his game. I don't know why they took him out after the 6th. According to the Nats announcers he had only thrown 72 pitches. That pitch to Dunn in the 8th was low but Dunn shouldn't have been taking that pitch with two strikes. But we have seen that before.
    I really don't think we will see another 300 game winner. With everyone watching pitch counts so closely and a five man rotation I believe this is something that is now in the past.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

  4. #3
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    6,267

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    For my money, he's the second greatest southpaw of all-time.

    Posnanski talks about the greatest southpaw a bit ...

    http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/06/04/lefty/

    Underrated is a Zen place to be. What I mean by that is you can only be underrated for as long as people do not notice that you are underrated. Once someone starts calling you underrated, you begin to lose your footing. When enough people start calling you underrated, you stop being underrated. And when you become known as the “most underrated anything,” well, the jig is up.


    Take Adrian Gonzalez. I would say there’s a pretty good chance that at this exact moment in time he’s the most underrated player in baseball. He has put up a 125 OPS+ each of the last three years without too many people noticing. He has averaged 30 home runs per year even though he plays half his games in a stadium about the size of Greenland — he’s hit two thirds of those homers on the road. He has won a Gold Glove. He seems to play the game hard, if you are the type to measure those sorts of things.

    Since the beginning of the 2007 season:

    Player A: .282/.362/.527 with 88 homers, 262 RBIs, 139 OPS+.
    Player B: .294/.368/.517 with 68 homers, 287 RBIs, 137 OPS+.
    Player C: .260/.361/.565 with 110 homers, 325 RBIs, 134 OPS+

    Player A is Adrian Gonzalez. Player B is Justin Morneau. Player C is Ryan Howard.

    Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that Gonzalez is the most underrated player in baseball. Well, now Gonzalez is having a huge year. Huge. Leading baseball in home runs. And a bunch of people write about it. “Adrian Gonzalez: Underrated Star!” More people write about it. Someone says something on television: “It’s ridiculous how little acclaim Adrian Gonzalez gets! Guy’s the most underrated player in the game.” People start bringing signs to the ballpark: “Yo Adrian! We Don’t Underrate You!“ And soon, it’s like “It’s A Wonderful Life:” Every time Gonzalez rings the bell, Adrian gets called underrated.

    And that’s the end of that. Once someone becomes known as wildly underrated, once that becomes his reputation, well, the whole thing just seems silly.

    You will ask why I bring this up. Well, here’s why: I think Lefty Grove is the most underrated player in baseball history. Why? Because he’s the one player I know who is permanently underrated. It doesn’t matter how many people point out that he might be the best pitcher in baseball history. It doesn’t matter how many times you point out his preposterous numbers. It doesn’t matter. He stays in the shadows of baseball history.

    Here are the latest results from an ESPN poll on the best left-handed pitcher of all time (pointed out by brilliant reader Mickey):

    1. Sandy Koufax, 58%
    2. Randy Johnson, 20%
    3. Warren Spahn, 9%
    4. Steve Carlton, 8%
    5. Lefty Grove, 5%

    Now, look, all five of those pitchers were great. And this is not a poll of baseball experts of anything, this is everyone — hardcore baseball fans, softcore baseball fans (?), people who think every fly ball is a home run, people who scream balk when a pitcher whirls to throw to second, kids who have been following baseball since May of 2007, people who have not seen a baseball game since 1973 and wonder why there aren’t be more players like Felix Millan.

    And so, you can understand the results. Koufax has become mythical. Unit is about to win 300. Spahn is the answer to the trivia question, Which lefty won the most games? Carlton, well, he was called “Lefty” and he played more recently and more people have probably heard of him than Grove. Which is bloody remarkable, I would just like to point out:

    Steve Carlton: .574 winning percentage, 115 ERA+.
    Lefty Grove: .680 winning percentage, 148 ERA+.

    That doesn’t seem especially close, does it? Carlton was a great pitcher, no doubt, but this is a bit like someone asking for the best lefty hitters ever, and someone picking Rod Carew over Babe Ruth.

    The thing about Grove is not just that he’s better than anyone on the list. He beats all of them at their own game. What I mean is, well, Steve Carlton is probably best known for his amazing 1972 season, when he won 27 games for a last place team. It’s one of the greatest seasons in baseball history: Most wins, best ERA, most strikeouts, best ERA+, best strikeout to walk ratio. Incredible.

    Well, Grove probably had two or three years that were better than that. Take 1930 — which was not Grove’s best season — he had the most wins, best ERA, most strikeouts, best ERA+, best strikeout to walk ratio, best WHIP and, oh yeah, he also led the league in saves. I realize it was a different era, and saves were not even a statistic. However, I would like to say that again: He also led the league in saves.

    Sandy Koufax is known for his great peak from 1963-66. And it was remarkable. He had a 1.86 ERA over those four years, and had more strikeouts than innings pitched. But, you have to point out that he was pitching in one of the greatest pitching parks ever, from a mound roughly the height of the Chrysler Building, in the greatest pitcher time since Deadball.

    Truth is, Grove’s peak from 1929-1932 might have been even better.

    Koufax: 92-27, .782 winning percentage, 1.86 ERA, 1,192 innings, 1,228 Ks, 172 ERA+.
    Grove: 104-25, .806 winning percentage, 2.56 ERA, 1,146 innings, 742 Ks, 176 ERA+.

    You will notice that Grove’s ERA is quite a bit higher, but his ERA+ is better and his winning percentage is better. That’s because he pitched in a hitters’ ballpark in a hitters’ era. But here’s the truly amazing thing: While those four years more or less make up Koufax’s career, Grove went 24-8 the year BEFORE his peak, and he went 24-8 the year AFTER his peak.

    Spahn’s calling card was durability and his ability to win games. He won 20 or more game an amazing 13 times. Incredible. But here’s how many times he won more than 23 games in a season: Zero. Grove did it five times.

    Spahn was an amazing old pitcher — from age 35 to 42 he won 167 games with a 119 ERA+.

    Grove, from ages 35-39, reinvented himself as a pitcher. And he went 83-41 with a 174 ERA. Think about that for a minute … for those five years, as an old pitcher, Grove had a better ERA+ than Sandy Koufax’s peak.

    Finally, there’s Randy Johnson, who I think has his own case as the greatest pitcher. Great peak, great career, durable pitcher, there with Nolan and Pedro as greatest strikeout starter ever. Grove, though, has a better ERA, better ERA+, better win percentage, and so on.

    Here’s one: Randy Johnson won four ERA titles. Warren Spahn won three ERA titles. Steve Carlton won one ERA title. Lefty Grove won more than all three put together. He won nine ERA titles.

    Here’s one: Lefty Grove went 31-4 in 1931 — he’s the only lefty since 1900 to win 30 games. But as mentioned, he won 28 games the year before that — none of the other four lefties won 28 games in a season.

    Here’s one: In 1928, when Grove was a ferocious strikeout pitcher, he struck out the side on nine pitches. Twice. Koufax and Nolan Ryan are the only other two men to pull the trick twice … but they didn’t do it in the same year.

    Here’s one: Lefty Grove had ELEVEN seasons where he had a 150 ERA+ or better. Nobody else has had even 10. Koufax had four; Spahn had two, Carlton had five — so if you add up those three, yeah, you get to Lefty Grove.

    And so on. Here’s another thing about Grove: He did not pitch in the big leagues until he was 25. People will talk about how good Koufax would have been had he not retired at age 30, and it’s true. But what if Grove had come up at 21 or 22? He signed with the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league team, in 1920, and for the next five years he was probably already the best pitcher in the world. But the Orioles owner would not sell him to the big leagues*. Grove won exactly 300 games … but how many would he have won had he come up to the big leagues two or three years earlier?

    *Wouldn’t it be great if some minor league team simply refused to let a player go to the big leagues today. LIke, say the owner of the Norfolk Tides said, “Uh, nope, we’re not letting Matt Wieters go.” I realize that the minor leagues don’t have anything like that sort of power now, but I wish some crazed minor league owner would try it in some sort of Dog Day Afternoon desperation move.

    It’s always hard comparing players of different eras. Grove played in that era before Jackie Robinson. But he also played in an era of preposterous offensive numbers. He played in an era with limited travel. But he also played in an era of day games. He played in an era before intense media scrutiny, which is probably good because by all accounts Lefty Grove was one mean son-of-a-gun.

    Bill James, in his Baseball Abstract, ranked Grove the second best pitcher in baseball history behind Walter Johnson. But he made the point that by other measurements, Grove could certainly be considered No. 1 too. Since then, Greg Maddux has won his 300th game, Roger Clemens has won his 300th game, Randy Johnson is about to win his 300th game and Pedro Martinez finished off the greatest peak, I think, in baseball history. So it’s hard to find Grove’s place.

    But if people keep insisting on looking back on baseball history as one long continuum — if people keep insisting that Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player ever, Ted Williams the greatest pure hitter ever, Joe DiMaggio a player of incomparable grace … well, it seems to me that Lefty Grove should finish better than fifth in a poll of greatest lefties ever.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

  5. #4
    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    18,634

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Quote Originally Posted by cumberlandreds View Post
    I watched this game. I got home about the time it started so it fit in perfectly for the evening. I didn't think they would even play. When I left work at 3 pm in DC it was pouring the rain and it was expected to rain all evening. But there was enough of of a window of drizzly rain to get this one in. Johnson was on his game. I don't know why they took him out after the 6th. According to the Nats announcers he had only thrown 72 pitches. That pitch to Dunn in the 8th was low but Dunn shouldn't have been taking that pitch with two strikes. But we have seen that before.
    I really don't think we will see another 300 game winner. With everyone watching pitch counts so closely and a five man rotation I believe this is something that is now in the past.
    Randy caught Dunn at the right time as since May 12th, Dunn's had hard times (.179/.346/.410 with twice as many Ks as BBs). Also, being a lefty (and a good one to boot as he's still gt a K/9=8.7), it's a tough matchup for Dunn.

    But ya, Johnson is a first ballot arm IMHO.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

  6. #5
    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    13,440

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Heard some talk radio guys this morning who are convinced that Johnson is the last addition to the 300-win club the game will ever see. I'm not convinced. Should I be?
    /r/reds

  7. #6
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    34,346

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    Heard some talk radio guys this morning who are convinced that Johnson is the last addition to the 300-win club the game will ever see. I'm not convinced. Should I be?

    Who's a likely candidate(s)?
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rally-...24872650873160

  8. #7
    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Dublin, OH
    Posts
    5,328

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Moyer, if he goes to 50.

  9. #8
    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    13,440

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    Who's a likely candidate(s)?
    Pettitte seems to have the best chance at a 300-win career if he remains durable.

    I guess my objection is not for any kind of practical reason, like there being a bumper crop of young starters who will easily surpass the mark. There's a lot of history in the game and a lot more history yet to come. IMO, it just seems selfish to carry a belief that our lifetime has included what may be the most prolific stretch of 300-game winners that the game will ever see.
    /r/reds

  10. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,423

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Congrats to the 'Big Unit!' He has just been so dominant for a huge part of his career. I'll never forget when he threw over Kruk's head at the all-star game or when Lofton yelled at him so the next pitch Johnson threw it behind his head. He never smiled at those times which made it even better. I think Kruk refused to be against him after that...haha


    "Tim's not going to think that quick." Nice quote from Dunn!

    Bum

  11. #10
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    34,346

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    Pettitte seems to have the best chance at a 300-win career if he remains durable.

    I guess my objection is not for any kind of practical reason, like there being a bumper crop of young starters who will easily surpass the mark. There's a lot of history in the game and a lot more history yet to come. IMO, it just seems selfish to carry a belief that our lifetime has included what may be the most prolific stretch of 300-game winners that the game will ever see.

    Pettitte barely got a job this season. He's clearly on the downside of his career.

    I wouldn't say there will never be another 300 game winner but it's not looking too good. Johnson is 45 years old and he just got #300. Including Johnson, there are 24 300 game winners. It's been 123 years since the National League was formed and during that period, only 24 guys have accomplished that feat - a lot of them pitched in the deadball era. With the 5 man rotation, pitch counts, specialized relievers, a miniturized strike zone, a deemphasis on pitching inside and batters getting bigger and stronger, the odds on us seeing another 300 game winner are very long.
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rally-...24872650873160

  12. #11
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Mason, OH
    Posts
    12,048

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Very good article on Johnson from SI a couple weeks ago. Love the title...

    http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.c...5646/index.htm

    May 25, 2009
    Randy Johnson Will Grind Your Bones To Make His Bread

    He has more wins in his 40s than he did in his 20s, and he enjoyed his most fearsome run in his late 30s; as he closes in on 300 wins, it's safe to say there's never been another pitching giant like the Big Unit
    TOM VERDUCCI

    At the height of his prowess, Randy Johnson threw 102 miles an hour slingshot-style and wore a Deadwood mustache, a mud flap of a mullet, and a scowl atop his 6'10" frame that had the don't-mess effect of an armed prison guard high in a turret. He threw with such ferocity that a tooth filling once dislodged clear from his tightly clenched jaw and out of his mouth. He once virtually vaporized an unfortunate dove in mid-flight, a puff of feathers the residue of Johnson's fastball. No pitcher ever scared lefthanded hitters out of the lineup and sent them scurrying, like mice to their holes, the way he did. Rumor had it he would grind their bones to make his bread.

    "He was just an intimidating presence," says former Mariner Dan Wilson, who was on the receiving end of more of Johnson's games (109) than any other catcher. "I went to the mound once to talk to him. I could tell something was wrong. I said, 'Randy, what's the problem?' He said, 'My hair keeps whipping into my eyes.' I said, 'Get a haircut,' but I didn't think he would do that. It would take away from his persona."

    So dominant was Johnson that before a game in 1993, the home plate umpire told Mariners catcher Dave Valle, "They don't even need you with Randy pitching."

    "What are you talking about?" replied Valle, who would not name the ump.

    "He's so good they don't need you. Let me call the pitches tonight."

    "I let him call every pitch." recalls Valle, to whom the umpire whispered pitches under his breath.

    An overpowering Johnson went the distance in a Mariners victory.

    When he was traded from the first of his six clubs, the Montreal Expos, in 1989, a notoriously wild Johnson had just three career wins at age 25. By his 30th birthday he had only 64 victories (fewer than, say, Jason Marquis had at the same age). He has overcome three back surgeries and endured a right knee without cartilage. Those who doubted him unwittingly provided the rebar for the construction of a remarkable career.

    In 2005, with 251 wins but pushing 42, Johnson listened on the Yankees' bench as teammate Al Leiter told him that Tom Glavine might be the last 300-game winner.

    "I looked at him and went, 'Oh, really?'" Johnson says. "The thought may have been in the back of my head, but I wouldn't be confident enough to say to anyone, 'I'm going to do it.'"




    Asked what makes him proudest about his career, Johnson replies, "Longevity. Battling adversity. Battling several knee surgeries. Battling two back surgeries late in my career as a power pitcher. That's like Buddy Rich, the greatest drummer of all time, having broken fingers or a broken wrist and wondering if things will ever be the same."

    Now 45, and pitching for the San Francisco Giants, 45 miles from where he grew up in Livermore, Randall David (Big Unit) Johnson still casts an enormous shadow, notwithstanding his struggles this season (a 3--4 record, with a 6.86 ERA). He has pitched 22 seasons, struck out 4,831 batters and thrown 66,727 pitches. He needs just two more victories to reach 300 wins, the ultimate pitching imprimatur. Not only would Johnson be just the 24th pitcher to reach that mark, but he also would be the tallest, quite possibly the last, and a very convincing case for the least likely. His career represents a feat of pitching engineering on a monstrous scale, the Hoover Dam of pitching projects. The arc of this massive undertaking can be traced through his milepost victories.

    Win No. 1 THE THROWER

    Johnson was an oddity, not a potential 300-game winner, when he made his debut for the Expos on Sept. 15, 1988. He beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9--4 while throwing 93 pitches in five innings. In that garish Montreal cap, blond locks spilling out like an overturned bowl of linguine, he looked more amusing than menacing, not unlike when he was a minor leaguer and had to contort himself into the backseat of his old, beat-up VW Beetle—the front seat had been removed—in order to drive. "I remember being the most nervous I had ever been," Johnson says of that first game. "I remember Glenn Wilson hit two home runs off me in that game. And I go, 'Wow. Who is this guy?' I didn't know players back then."

    Johnson made four starts for the Expos that month and won three of them. He made the big league club the next spring but was sent back to Triple A after starting the season 0--4 with 26 walks in 29 2/3 innings. Montreal traded him to Seattle that May to acquire lefthanded ace Mark Langston.

    "I had velocity and that's what I got by on at that time," Johnson says. "You see it all the time with young pitchers. You can throw 97, 98 and throw it down the middle, and for the most part you can get away with it. I was blessed with velocity. You really can't teach that. So absolutely, I was a thrower in the beginning, and then over time I developed the ingredients of location and movement to be more of a pitcher."

    No. 50 THE STUDENT

    On Opening Day of the 1993 season, Johnson threw 120 pitches, struck out 14 batters and, with Valle, not the umpire, calling pitches this time, beat Jack Morris and the defending world champion Blue Jays 8--1. Johnson was evolving, and Valle could sense—well, literally feel—the change. Valle used to wake up with a sore left shoulder the morning after catching Johnson, who was so wild that he would regularly throw fastballs extremely high and away to righthanders, forcing his catcher to reach across his body to stab at the ball. The force from those pitches would tug on the muscles of Valle's left shoulder.

    One day in 1992 at the Kingdome in Seattle, Texas Rangers pitching coach Tom House, who, like Johnson, had attended USC, said to the Unit, "Hey, do you want to watch Nolan [Ryan] throw a bullpen [session]?" Johnson said yes, and he wound up getting a pitching lesson from House and Ryan, both of whom detected a flaw in his delivery.

    "I was landing on the heel of my foot instead of the ball of my foot," Johnson says. "When I would land on the heel of my foot I would spin, my arm would drop down, I would fall toward third base. That was the one thing I did consistently. I was consistently wild."




    Johnson made an adjustment, and success followed almost immediately. Later that year, when matched up against Ryan, he struck out 18 batters in eight innings, throwing 160 pitches. His pitching had started to turn a corner.

    That winter, his father, Bud, passed away, "so I took what I learned from Nolan and a heavy heart into the '93 season," says Johnson, who would go 19--8 and strike out 308 batters that year. "That was really the defining moment, because I felt like I would dig down a little deeper from that point on, and I would throw more pitches if I had to, to throw more innings, to get us closer to winning the game."

    "He was coming into his own as a player and a person," Valle says. "I told him once, 'Randy, I wish you could face yourself as a hitter. If you stood in the box against yourself, you'd see you're one of the baddest men on the planet.' Nobody wanted to face him."

    No. 100 THE INJURED

    "Once you let Randy get two or three innings of scoreless baseball, your team was in trouble," says Dan Wilson, who caught No. 100, an 8--5 Mariners win over Milwaukee on April 6, 1996. "He got stronger as the game went on. He could outlast you. He could throw 120 pitches and number 120 would be just as hard as number 1."

    Johnson's victory over the Brewers, however, was the second of four starts to begin that season in which he threw 129, 122, 123 and 128 pitches—this after a year in which he had gone 19--2 and pitched six times in the season's final 20 days, playoffs included. By the end of May, Johnson's back finally gave out and he needed surgery.

    From 1990 through '95, Johnson threw 150 pitches or more in a game eight times; all other major league pitchers combined had 23 such games during that period. "All that stress goes somewhere," Johnson says, "and evidently it went to my back. I've never had any arm problems."

    Nos. 150 and 200 THE LEGEND

    After a deadline deal to Houston in 1998, Johnson went 10--1 with the Astros and led them to the playoffs, setting him up for a four-year, $53 million free-agent contract with Arizona at age 35. Over the next four years, Johnson won 81 games (including wins 150 and 200), lost 27, struck out 1,417 batters in 1,030 innings, and won four Cy Young Awards, four strikeout titles, three ERA titles and a world championship. The final year of that run, '02, which Johnson identifies as his best, he won pitching's triple crown (24 wins, 334 strikeouts, 2.32 ERA) while turning 39. "You can compare the four years I had to anybody's in baseball," Johnson says, "to anybody's in any sport."

    Johnson's extraordinary four-year run occurred in the last four seasons before baseball began testing for steroids. Johnson never has been tied directly to performance-enhancing drugs. Convicted steroids dealer Kirk Radomski, however, wrote in his book Bases Loaded that investigators for the '07 Mitchell Report asked him if he knew about steroid use by Johnson, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez or Alex Rodriguez. Radomski wrote that he had no knowledge of steroids use by those players. (Only Sheffield was named in the report.)




    Johnson says that in those years he hired a professor from Canada to educate him on nutrition and training. He says that he used a hyperbaric chamber to improve recovery time and "dabbled in all kinds of powders and tried to put weight on." When asked what would have stopped him from using steroids at a time when baseball did not specifically ban them, Johnson pauses, then says, "Because I wasn't searching for anything other than to have the ability to throw the ball over the plate. You can do your homework. I've always thrown as hard as anybody in the game. There's no denying that. I've [also] always been skinny. I'm not denying that I went to GNC and all that stuff. I took a lot of different things that, you know, maybe at that time, maybe early enough, if I would have been tested, who knows? I could have been taking stuff had they tested me back then. Maybe I would have tested [positive for a banned supplement]. I don't know."

    Johnson is asked if he could assure his fans that his achievements have been legitimate, because even clean players can be wrongly suspected. "You've got to [ask] what you've got to [ask], I guess," Johnson says, before adding, "How long have we been doing drug tests now?"

    Told testing began with anonymous survey tests in 2003, he replies, "Okay, what's that? Six years now? I'm 45 ... 39 to the present and I've passed every test and I've still had some pretty good years."

    No. 250 THE TWILIGHT

    Johnson won his 250th game, a 6--4 win over Oakland on May 15, 2005, in his eighth start after being traded to the Yankees before that season. It was one of only seven career starts in which he failed to strike out a batter. Johnson did win 34 games in two seasons in New York, but he pitched through back problems in what were two of the least dominating seasons of his career.

    "It was challenging," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada says of handling Johnson. "He was tough to talk to. Not when it came to pitching and catching and calling his game. It was just getting to sit down and go to a friend. That was the toughest thing. Because you didn't know how he was going to be that day."

    Says Johnson, "I felt kind of beat up a little physically there. All the intangibles: the amount of innings, the weather, the new environment, pitching against all the teams I had to pitch against.... There was no relief. You'd be pitching against Boston and have to face them five days later."

    The New York years made Johnson consider how much longer he would be able to pitch. "I will tell you, it started creeping into my head," he says, "at age 41, 42. Pitching in New York has a way of having things creep into your head that otherwise wouldn't be there. Nobody needs to tell me when I'm not pitching well. But it's reinforced that you're not."

    No. 300 LAST CALL

    Johnson has not decided whether to retire after this season, saying, "I take one game at a time. They've got me going for 300. I'm only at 298. I don't look that far ahead."




    Johnson frequently counsels young San Francisco pitchers such as 2008 Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and lefthander Jonathan Sanchez. "I told Lincecum that I won a Cy Young in '95, '99, 2000 and 2001," Johnson says. "I already had four Cy Youngs. I could have been content. But it wasn't until 2002 that I had my best year statistically. I feel like I've never been content."

    Lincecum has 28 career wins and turns 25 in June. He would have to average 15 wins a year until he's 43 to reach 300 career wins. After the Unit, Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer is the active leader with 249 career wins, but at 46 he's even older than Johnson. Toronto's Roy Halladay would need to average 16 wins a year through age 42—another 11 years. The White Sox' Mark Buehrle would need 15 wins a year for another 12 years, when he'll be 41. So, yes, it's possible another 300-game winner is already on his way, but it's unlikely, and the degree of difficulty may grow greater as starting pitchers pitch fewer innings and qualify for fewer wins.

    Then again, hasn't the prolific and persistent career of Johnson taught us anything about baseball's actuarial tables? Johnson has won more games in his 40s (70) than he did in his 20s (64). There may be another 300-game winner out there. It could be even longer, however, before we see another outsized character—mulleted or not—quite like Johnson.

    "Fame comes in a moment," Valle says, "but greatness comes with longevity. And you've got to put him up there with the greatest of all time."


    Pay attention to the open sky

  13. #12
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    6,267

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    I'm confident there will be another 300 game winner, however, it wouldn't surprise me if the game's next 300 game winner isn't in professional baseball yet. Guys have to excel and be durable throughout their 30s and into their 40s, and we don't know yet if anybody from the current crop will do that.

    While the game has evolved to its present form of heavy relief pitcher usage, a very good pitcher with a freakish ability to last well into his 40s can win 300 games in the current environment. Whether that guy is currently dominating or whether he's currently an eight-year-old on a local field down the street hasn't yet been determined.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

  14. #13
    Member NJReds's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    5,432

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    Pettitte seems to have the best chance at a 300-win career if he remains durable.

    I guess my objection is not for any kind of practical reason, like there being a bumper crop of young starters who will easily surpass the mark. There's a lot of history in the game and a lot more history yet to come. IMO, it just seems selfish to carry a belief that our lifetime has included what may be the most prolific stretch of 300-game winners that the game will ever see.
    CC Sabathia was mentioned on Mike & Mike this a.m. He's got 122 wins and is 28 years old. Seems far fetched, and like RJ he'd have to pitch into his 40s most likely.
    "The players make the manager, it's never the other way." - Sparky Anderson

  15. #14
    Mr.Redlegs is my homeboy Eric_the_Red's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Posts
    2,171

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    Who's a likely candidate(s)?
    Johnny Cueto.

  16. #15
    breath westofyou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    PDX
    Posts
    42,338

    Re: Randy Johnson, 300 game winner

    Randy is the tallest 300 game winner (6'10") the next tallest would be Clemens, Perry and Carlton at 6'4". Five pitchers who have won 300 games stood under 6 feet tall, with Pud Galvin at 5'8" the shortest, 4 of the 5 played in the 19th century exclusively, only Eddie Plank (5'11") played during the 20th century.


Turn Off Ads?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Board Moderators may, at their discretion and judgment, delete and/or edit any messages that violate any of the following guidelines: 1. Explicit references to alleged illegal or unlawful acts. 2. Graphic sexual descriptions. 3. Racial or ethnic slurs. 4. Use of edgy language (including masked profanity). 5. Direct personal attacks, flames, fights, trolling, baiting, name-calling, general nuisance, excessive player criticism or anything along those lines. 6. Posting spam. 7. Each person may have only one user account. It is fine to be critical here - that's what this board is for. But let's not beat a subject or a player to death, please.

Thank you, and most importantly, enjoy yourselves!


RedsZone.com is a privately owned website and is not affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds or Major League Baseball


Contact us: Boss | GIK | BCubb2003 | dabvu2498 | Gallen5862 | LexRedsFan | Plus Plus | RedlegJake | redsfan1995 | The Operator | Tommyjohn25