Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Big Unit

Johnson K's 13 in perfect effort

I happened to catch the last couple innings of Randy Johnson's perfect game last night, and was reminded once again of one of the major reasons why I love sports.

Johnson pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the game last night was played in Atlanta. Toward the end of the game, the fans--the overwhelming majority of which, one could assume, were Braves fans--stood and cheered for Johnson, hoping he would finish it out. When the game was over, they gave him a standing ovation, appreciative of his feat despite the fact that it was accomplished against their home team, and he made sure to tip his cap to everyone.

I love stuff like that.

This is one of the great things about baseball. You never know what you're going to see, and this is the sort of historic performance you would love to be in attendance for. This was only the 17th perfect game in baseball history, so obviously it's a rare occurrence.

I'm especially happy that it happened for Johnson, who has long been one of my favorite non-Reds players. He's simply a dominating performer, and probably the only pitcher I would actually pay money to see. I generally like to see a lot of offense, but I love watching Johnson pitch when he's on. He's awesome. He's such an imposing presence on the mound. He throws a hard fastball, and when his other pitches are working, he makes the hitters look silly. It's so much fun to watch.

The only other perfect game memory I have is of Tom Browning's perfect game for the Reds over the Dodgers in 1988. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see any of that game. I was staying at my aunt and uncle's house at the time, because their grandson (my cousin) was in town for a visit. The game was in Los Angeles, so it was pretty late here in the east when it ended, and my cousin and I were in bed. Of course, being young boys, we were still awake, goofing off. My uncle is a big Reds fan and knew I was too, so he came in to tell us about it when it ended.

That was pretty cool, but no comparison to actually seeing the game. Even in the ninth inning, Johnson was dominating the hitters and blowing them away. I just wish I would have seen the whole game.

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