Say It Ain’t No

I’ve heard my parents and grandparents talk about moments in time where they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing. I heard them tell exactly where they were at when John Kennedy was shot or when World War II ended. I never thought there would be an event in my life that would compare to that. Sure I remember where I was the day I got married; my wife would never let me forget that. The same goes for the day each of my children were born. I was told in no uncertain terms that if Trina was going through that much pain I was going to be right next to her I guess so she could smack me at a moment’s notice or something. No I am talking about major life events here and three in particular will forever stand out in my mind.

I remember June 25, 1999 as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in Bank One Ballpark in section 133 watching the Arizona Diamondbacks host the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals were starting an unknown rookie pitcher that night and Trina was at the game with me. What happened that night will cause me nightmares for the rest of my life. I sat there keeping score watching the game and inning after inning the Diamondbacks came to the plate and were set down by Jose Jimenez and by the end of nine innings I had seen the first no-hitter in Diamondbacks history. The problem was that it was the Diamondbacks who didn’t have a hit. It was a sick feeling to see your team go down in flames. I kept thinking, “How could they be so impatient at the plate? They have never seen this pitcher before; they should at least take a few pitches if for no other reason than to drive up his pitch count.” It was a long drive home that night recounting the 27 outs I had just seen. Jimenez only walked 2 batters and struck out 8 that night. What was even worse was that the losing pitcher was Randy Johnson who only allowed 1 run on 5 hits himself and he struck out 14 batters that night. How could we not get one lousy hit against a rookie who until that time had only won 3 and came into the game with a 3-7 record?

May 18, 2004 I was at home. The Diamondbacks were out of town meaning I had a home stand. Arizona was playing the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Even this early in the season things were not going well for the Diamondbacks. Randy Johnson was on the mound and at the time had a losing record of 3-4. The good news was that he was facing Mike Hampton who had a 0-4 record. The Diamondbacks had a line-up featuring several of the “baby-backs” who had very little major league experience. The Diamondbacks found themselves in a pitching dual but took advantage of 3 errors by Johnny Estrada, Mark DeRosa, and Mike Hampton and scored single runs in the second and seventh inning. This was twice as many runs as they would need. Randy Johnson became the seventeenth pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw a perfect game. He set down 27 batters in order including striking out 13. It was the most amazing game I had ever seen by the most impressive pitcher I had ever had the good fortune of seeing in person. This was the way you are supposed to feel when a no-hitter is thrown. You dance around and kiss your wife in the middle of the street in celebration.

Last night, September 6, 2006, is another night I will never forget. I was again at home coming in the door from work just before first pitch. The Diamondbacks were 1-4 on the current road trip after leading all 5 games in the sixth inning. The night before we had broken out of a 6-game losing streak and the team hoped to salvage a series win if they could take the final game against the Marlins. On the mound for the Diamondbacks was Edgar Gonzalez who was just called up from Tucson. Florida countered with rookie Anibal Sanchez who was 6-2 coming into the game. The Diamondbacks like have been the case most of the year were very aggressive at the plate swinging at pitches early in the count. I kept thinking to myself, “How could they be so impatient at the plate? They have never seen this pitcher before; they should at least take a few pitches if for no other reason than to drive up his pitch count.” It was at that moment that I got a chill from déjà vu. I sat on the couch watching as batter after batter was set down. Sanchez walked 4 hitters and Miguel Cabrera committed a throwing error and still the Diamondbacks could not capitalize. Edgar allowed only 2 runs on solo homers one in the second by Joe Borchard and one in the fourth inning by Miguel Cabrera. That was twice as many runs as Florida would need winning the game 2-0. The no-hitter marked the first time that had happened in the Major Leagues since Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2004.

In each of these games Randy’s name has been associated with the Diamondbacks. Strangely, Randy was pitching last night for the New York Yankees and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals. He won that game 8-3 allowing 1 hit in 7 innings striking out 8.

It’s bad enough that Arizona went 1-5 on that road trip after being ahead in 5 of the 6 games but then to have the final game be a no-hitter means that we get to hear about that loss over and over until someone else throws a no-hitter and since the frequency between this one and the last was over 2 years this may be a really long reminder. The only good thing about this whole situation is that the Boston Red Sox basically threw in Anibal Sanchez in the trade for Josh Beckett. So the next time one of those Red Sox fans starts to give Diamondbacks fans grief about the Curt Schilling trade just bring up the name Anibal Sanchez and they can go back in their corner and whimper about the return of the curse or something like that.

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