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No Randy Johnson vs. Ken Griffey, but Seattle Finally Says Goodbye to the Unit

Kevin NesgodaCorrespondent IMay 23, 2009

Eleven years ago, Randy Johnson was traded to the Houston Astros for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama. He was bitter that he couldn’t get a new contract worked out in Seattle.

Three years after the trade, Johnson was a World Series MVP and getting paid what he deserved in Arizona.

Should have he gotten paid in Seattle during the 1998 season? Some say that having Garcia and Halama was good enough; it got the team to a couple playoff appearances and a couple division titles.

The ace of the time was Jaime Moyer; Garcia made pushes for it, but could never really hold on to that position.

Randy Johnson just kept striking people out and winning games for the Diamondbacks.

He never felt appreciated in Seattle; a sentiment that would carry over to Griffey Jr. the following year, and then a year later for Alex Rodriguez.

Thing is, the fans never stopped loving Randy Johnson or Ken Griffey Jr.

Alex Rodriguez is a different story altogether. Most wouldn’t mind seeing him getting run over by a bus, but that is neither here nor there.

Griffey gets a standing ovation every time he comes to the plate; the love for Griffey never stopped and tonight in Seattle, it was rather obvious that it never stopped for Randy Johnson, either.

Before the game there were hundreds looking through the fence into the Giants’ bullpen. Watching Randy warm-up for his first game back in Seattle in a decade, the crowd hung on every toss.

As Randy walked from the bullpen to the dugout before the game, his focus was intense. He didn’t break his gaze from the ground, didn’t acknowledge the crowd. He was focused and for five solid innings, it showed.

Sadly there was no Johnson vs. Griffey match-up.

After days of lobbying from Griffey, Don Wakamatsu decided to start Mike Sweeney at DH rather than Junior. Every time Sweeney came up to bat there was a smattering of Griffey chants.

After five solid innings (I know, he went 5 1/3), Johnson was lifted and as he walked off the mound, he had 40,000 rise to their feet and give Randy Johnson the sendoff from Seattle that he rightfully deserved.

Most of us remember him grabbing his jacket and glove in the dugout against Cleveland in the Kingdome and then minutes later finding out that he had been dealt to Houston.

Finally, he got his just due from his fans in Seattle. They got to say their goodbye to him, and he got to say his goodbye to them.

Griffey, who had lobbied to face Johnson in tonight’s game, was denied his request. So we will never know if Griffey would have made good on his promise to lay down a bunt and make Johnson run.

Also, like in the ninth inning of the last game of the 1993 season against the Twins, Randy played left field and Griffey promised to make Johnson run then, too.

Too bad, we were 10 feet short of seeing Junior hit a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth on a 2-1 count.

We’ll settle for finally having a proper chance to say good-bye to Randy Johnson and getting to go home happy after Jose Lopez singled in the game winning run in the bottom of the 12th.

It was starting to get cold anyway.

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