As the 2009 MLB season drew to a close, many were already wondering about big name free agents, and wondering about certain plyaers that may or may not be able to help their teams in 2010. A name that many had to consider, much the way they had for the last 20 years, was the ageless wonder, 6 foot 10 inch Randy Johnson. Yes he is 46 years old, but he still had that same mound presence last year as a member of the San Francisco Giants. The only problem here is that Johnson has decided to hang it up, and end a brilliant but often misunderstood career.
For four games in 1989, the Montreal Expos, who seemed to be a glorified minor league grooming ground for future big time stars, introduced Johnson and the numbers spoke for themselves: four games, 3-0 record, three complete games, a 2.42 earned run average. He was a total intimidator on that mound from first sight. Tall in stature, a side-whinding delivery that looked as if the baseball had just disappeared to hitters, only to have Johnson slinging it close to 100 M.P.H past them and off to the dugout they would go.
He was often seen in the eyes of reporters and opposing fans and players as an angry, ruthless type of guy that would do anything to own “his plate”. Memories that surround him are moments in the All-Star game when he was seen throwing two pitches clear over the head of John Kruk. The screaming fist-pumping mad-man that treated a big strikeout like winning the lottery. He would place the glove in his face, and all you would see were those eyes, sizing up every pitch, to every hitter, like a painter eyes up canvas. His pitches were not always the prettiest, but usually the most effective.
In these times when it’s considered a huge feat for a pitcher to pitch seven quality innings in a game, a man like Johnson will sorely be missed.He would go nine innings as easily as any position player would. In the mind of a true sports fan we don’t really need our athletes to be all that media-friendly anyway. Let the talking be done through the work on the field, not in post-game interviews and not in a locker room. I will have many great memories of watching Johnson pitch. I for one will tell my grandkids about one of the truly best pitchers of “my day”, and his name will be Randy “Big Unit” Johnson.
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