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Dear Randy Johnson: Please Stop

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Randy Johnson of the San Francisco Giants watches the spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Scottsdale Stadium on February 26, 2009 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Sid NoyceContributor IMay 13, 2009

Dear Randy,

You were once the most imposing pitcher in baseball. Batters would cower in fear as you stood to face them on the mound. Because of your dominating presence, you were able to rack up wins and strikeouts in bundles. Heck, even a bird didn't stand a chance against you.

While I believe your quest for 300 wins is noble and would solidify your already solidified Hall of Fame potential, my favorite memories of you are being overtaken by more recent ones.

Please, get your 300 wins and then retire so the memories of the Hall of Fame Randy Johnson come to mind more readily than the old, inconsistent Randy Johnson.

Do you really want our lasting impression of you to be you suffering through another season all in the name of getting a couple more numbers on your plaque?

That is not what I want to remember, and I believe I speak for many fans when I say that.

I want to remember your days as a Seattle Mariner, when we began to realize how special you were. You led the league in strikeouts four years in a row, won your first Cy Young Award, and helped push the Mariners to the playoffs. Your record there was 130-74, with 51 complete games, 19 shutouts, and 2,162 strikeouts. In 1990, you threw a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers when you were just coming into your prime.

I also want to remember your days as an Arizona Diamondback. When you arrived there in 1999, the Diamondbacks were one-year-old and had no credibility. Your arrival signaled a dramatic change in that team's history. For the first four years you were in Arizona, you were the best pitcher in baseball, winning four Cy Youngs.

Even during the last year there, you were still dominate as you threw a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves, becoming one of only a handful of pitchers to throw a no-hitter in both leagues.

I want to remember how you ended the Yankees reign as baseball's kings in the 2001 World Series. You ended that series with a perfect record of 3-0, throwing a shutout in Game Two.

In Game Seven, you replaced Miguel Batista in the eighth inning, and we knew that there was no way the Yankees would score any more runs. You re-energized your teammates and gave them the strength to overcome the aura of the most dominating closer in history and win the game. You were named co-MVP with Curt Schilling for your efforts.

I stayed up that night to watch the game and will cherish it as one of my all-time favorite sports moments.

I want to remember how, in the All Star Game, you threw a ball over Larry Walker's head, prompting Larry to put his helmet on backwards and switch to the right side of the plate in the middle of his at-bat.

That was one of the first All Star Games I ever watched and that image (with its accompanying message about you) will remain with me forever.

I want to remember how a bird tried batting against you and lost.

I want to remember your career ERA of 3.28, your 100 complete games and 37 shutouts. I want to remember all 4,828 of your strikeouts, second only to Nolan Ryan.

Most of all, I want to remember that batters feared you.

Remember Ricky Henderson? Sure, people still remember that he was a great base-stealer. But ask anyone my age what they remember about him and you'll get the description of a man who tried living his childhood dream one year (or five) too long.

I don't want you to become that.

So please, fulfill your desire for 300 wins. I will applaud you when you reach it.

But don't become a man who lived his dream one year too long.

 

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