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October 10, 2014

The View from the Loge Level

The Last Days of the Big Unit

by Daron Sutton


Timing is everything, isn’t it? In life. In love. In baseball. I had the opportunity to be in the ballpark and sit in the ‘local’ loge level for both Derek Jeter Day on September 7th and Paul Konerko Day 20 days later. It was amazing timing to be in attendance on days that devoted fans got to say thank you to the faces of their franchise. These ‘goodbye days’ took me back to a conversation with Randy Johnson on September 27, 2008. It was on the eve of the final start of the season for Johnson; he wasn’t yet sure whether it would be the last of his career. On the day of our conversation, the left-hander already had a resume listing 585 starts, 294 wins, 4,780 strikeouts and five Cy Young Awards, but he drifted back and forth as to whether those numbers plus one more outing might be enough to call an end to the journey. It is safe to assume that the following day locked his decision to return. At 45, Johnson threw what turned out to be the final complete game of his career and beat Colorado and 24-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez.

Many documented the fact that Jeter and Konerko were more reflective than ever on, and in the days just before and after, their Days. The same can be same for Johnson on this day six years ago.

Here it the audio of the conversation in its entirety.

It’s about 25 minutes, and worth the time. But if you prefer to read, here are a few snapshots of the legend’s thoughts:

On how to decide to retire or return: “Obviously, I’ll be a free agent and see if the decision’s made that, ‘why don’t give it one more year and see what you’ve got left?’ Then if that’s the decision that I get at home, then I will inform my agents to see if there’s any jobs out there for a pitcher that has one more good year, I think, left in him, if that’s the case. Because I wouldn’t want to come back and take someone’s spot in an organization, whether it’s here or somewhere else, if I was to come back and play. I wouldn’t want to take someone’s future away from them. If there’s room for me to play somewhere and it’s a good fit for me and my family, I’ll weigh those options and see where it goes. But obviously I am still a long ways away from that. I have tomorrow to look forward to, it’s my last start.”

On what motivated him to return from back surgery: “To some extent I really wanted to have a big, big year. I felt I did that but I don’t have the numbers to back it up. We all know when the season’s over and the dust is settled and people look at your numbers, they see as of right now I’m 10-10 with an ERA of 4.00 (he actually finished 11-10 with a 3.91 thanks to the next day’s shutout), they’re gonna say, ‘well you had a pretty good year but it was average.’ You know you have to really dig in to what kind of year I really had and no one really takes that time. From that standpoint I’m really disappointed that I really didn’t have the numbers to back up as hard as I worked and the effort that I gave out there. But that’s baseball. I understand that. It’s not the first year I’ve ever had that but this year has been different than any other year of my career for those very reasons, coming off back surgery, wanting to prove to myself that I could get through a full year and still be very productive.”

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Related Content:  Derek Jeter

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/10)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The View from the Loge... (10/03)
Next Column >>
The View from the Loge... (10/21)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Pla... (10/10)

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