Prior to the last game of the season, Randy Johnson approached manager Bob Melvin and told him he could throw the pitch count out the window. Randy planned on doing whatever it took to win his final start of the season. Once again the Diamondbacks struggled offensively and it looked like the Big Unit might find himself the recipient of no run support. The Arizona hitters were finally able to eek out a couple of runs late in the game to preserve the win for Randy. It was an incredible pitching performance and was vintage Randy Johnson. He dominated the Colorado Rockies throwing a complete game allowing 2 hits and walking 1 batter while striking out 9. He looked like a man who would not be denied his 295th career win.
The fans sensed how important this game was to Randy and the crowd of 35,908 cheered wildly for the Big Unit. At several junctures during the game the fans came to their feet and acknowledged their appreciation not just for his performance during this game but for all the games Randy has had during his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. As he walked off the field in the middle of the ninth inning the crowd once again gave him a thunderous standing ovation calling him out of the dugout for a curtain call. It was great to see how passionate these fans were and how much they appreciated the diligence and hard work they have seen.
As the game ended Johnson made his way into the clubhouse and to the trainer’s room for treatment on his aging pitching arm. Those in the stands were left wondering, was this the last time we would see Randy Johnson in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform? It’s difficult to imagine that Johnson would retire when he is just 5 wins short of 300 in his career. Although Randy Johnson is clearly a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, I can’t see him being content with leaving this one accomplishment unfinished. Going into this season Randy needed 16 wins to reach this rare accomplishment. He ended the year with 11 wins. He should have had closer to 20 wins if it were not for an embarrassing lack of run support or a meltdown by the Diamondbacks bullpen late in games where Johnson left with the lead.
In the post game press conference Randy was very elusive about whether he would be pitching next season and if he were if it would be in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform. With the frustrations of this season still fresh on his mind I am sure that the last thing he wanted to do was commit to another season. Diamondbacks management have made recent statements that they would be interested in resigning the Big Unit but that no negotiations have been discussed with Johnson’s agent.
The Diamondbacks have several holes that need to be filled this off-season. They will have need of a second baseman and have several other players whose contracts are up this year. It’s unclear how much money they are willing to dedicate to a 45 year-old left-handed pitcher. Personally I think it would be a travesty to not have Randy finish his career and win his 300th win as an Arizona Diamondback. Hopefully both sides will be able to come to terms and we’ll see Johnson wearing Sedona Red in 2009. If not, the next time we may see him will be when the Diamondbacks retire his number 51 jersey.