He warmed up , set to make start number 597 of his 21 year career. Underneath a sky that was taunting them with its grayness, threatening to unleash the rain it was holding back and delay the inevitable once again, an unspecified number of people settled into their seats. The stadium was largely vacant, and vast amounts of unfilled seats would be the majority of witnesses to what could be a historical feat. Many of the few who did make the pilgramage to the stadium were not there to see the inept Nationals, but rather to see the lanky, surly, 45 year old starter of the opposing Giants.
As Randy Johnson sat on the bench while the Giants batted in the top of the first I wonder if his career was flashing before his eyes before the crescendo that was about to take place. Did he think of his first start in Montreal 21 years earlier, when he struggled with his command, or his years on the Mariners playing with young Ken Griffey Jr and Alex Rodriguez. Did he think of his five Cy Young awards, or the World Series, or his perfect game, or the time he struck out 20 batters in a game. Or was he just wanting to get it over with.
I'm sure that this was not how he envisioned getting win number 300; Against a last place team under a dreary sky, playing for a team that he had only been with for three months which was once his rival, and with the stadium largely empty. It almost didn't happen. His team only provided two runs, and in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded the Nationals' best hitter had worked a full count on Giants closer Brian Johnson. Adam Dunn strikes out a lot, but rarely looking, so when a pitch that appeared low sailed into the catcher's mitt he began to turn his large frame toward first, thinking that the tying run had just been walked in. It was just then that the umpire bellowed strike three. He looked back with a questionning gaze on his face before heading to the dugout.
I would have liked to have seen that been called ball four. Not because I don't want Randy Johnson to get 300, but because I would have like to see him do it at Chase Field where he belongs. I would have liked to see him do it in front of what would most likely have been a sell out crown, in front of the fans that have shared so many of his great accomplishments. I would have liked to have seen 50,000 people give him the standing ovation that he deserves, and thank him for his many years of service to the Diamondbacks. Without Randy Johnson the Diamondbacks would have had an entirely different past.
When the Giants play the Diamondbacks on Tuesday I hope that the fans at Chase Field show him the respect that he deserves, I hope they put the ill feelings they might have behind and remember just what he has meant to this team and this city.