Randy Johnson has one of those resumes that just numbs the senses. Whether you liked the guy or not--and this Fan never really did--the guy had a career that is the stuff of dreams when it comes to the back of a baseball card. After 22 seasons, the 46 year old pitcher retired on Tuesday. The announcement is a relief. No one wanted to watch Johnson continue to push himself as a relief pitcher, not even those of us who didn't like him. He made it to 300 wins (303 to be precise) and it's good enough. Good enough? Gracious, is that an understatement.
Randy Johnson is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Anyone who doesn't vote for him in five years should lose the right to vote. 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings for a career? A career WHIP of 1.171? A career ERA+ of 136? A .646 winning percentage? Second all time in strikeouts? The most strikeouts in a career for a lefty? Two no-hitters? A 3-0 World Series record with a 1.13 ERA? Okay, he wasn't so good in division or league championship series, but come on! Perhaps his greatest statistic? He gave up less than seven hits per nine innings for the season for eleven different seasons. Eleven.
Perhaps if all that isn't enough, Johnson arguably (Gammons-speak) had five seasons that could be considered among the 50 best seasons by any pitcher in the modern baseball era. In those five seasons (1995, 1997 and 1999-2002) he went 119-28! He struck out over 300 batters seven times including a remarkable run of six seasons in a row. He had 100 complete games and 37 career shutouts.
This Fan hopes Bert Blyleven gets in the Hall of Fame because he deserves it. But a pitcher like Randy Johnson makes him look sick. He was that good. Randy Johnson may have been better than Roger Clemens. Randy Johnson was nearly as good as Pedro Martinez in Pedro's most spectacular seasons, but Johnson did it longer.
Not many people love Randy Johnson. Maybe it's because he was one of the ugliest fellows that ever graced our television screens. Handsome, he was not. Plus he scowled a lot and looked mad a lot and seemed like a bit of a crank. Perhaps we are just biased against those who don't look like our ideals. It's too bad really, because perhaps we didn't appreciate one of the most amazing baseball players of our era.