I went and got a haircut the day of Randy Johnson's perfect game, but was still able to follow the game: there was a Sport Clips near SnakePit Towers, so got to see the early going there. By the time I got out, it was clear there was something potentially momentous in the pipeline, so headed back home to take in the rest of the game. Before we get to the game itself, here's an interesting graphics with other actions and reactions to the Big Unit's perfecto.
And now, it's over to Casa Johnson for The Perfecting...
Nice entertainment center. :)
That makes sense. Things like no-hitters almost always seem to sneak up on their owners unannounced. I don't think I've ever heard a pitcher say, "Yeah, I was sure from when I was throwing in the bullpen, today was the day!"
Kids, that's why you do PFP in Spring Training. As you saw, I didn't get over to first base! Thanks Shea. #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
Fun fact about RJ fielding. Did you know Randy Johnson played in left-field once? It came when he was with the Mariners, in the final game of the 1993 season. According to Lou Piniella, "He wanted to play first base, but [current D-backs hitting coach!] Dave Magadan was due up in the top of the ninth. So I told him to grab a glove and head out to left field." He didn't have to make a play: "I was hoping I’d get to go back to the wall and take a home run away from somebody, just like Junior," Johnson said.
This wasn't RJ's first complete-game shutout of the season. In his third appearance, on April 16, he had two-hit the Padres for his first victory, the Diamondbacks winning 5-0. He also tossed a complete-game on July 4 against the Twins, a 6-2 win.
It's interesting how perfect games are usually tight. Obviously, one side doesn't score, but of the nine perfectos in National League history, only three were won by more than two runs.
Actually, 11 pitches. Estrada certainly battled harder than anyone else, seeing a total of 22 pitches over his three plate-appearances. But there was only one first-pitch out, and a pair that took two pitches.
I haven’t watched this game in a lot of years so it’s all coming back to me and it’s interesting to relive this. #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
I guess this shows RJ is not exactly like Derek Jeter [link NSFW]. In case you hadn't already worked THAT out...
That high fastball to Chipper...It always helps to get the call every once in a while to go your way. #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
RJ threw a total of 117 pitches, 87 for strikes. That's a 74.3% strike rate, and is still the most strikes recorded as having been thrown in any perfect game.
Interesting that back then they didn't even show the pitch count or K zone, now it seems like everyone wants to know. #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
That's one of the things which I always notice when watching old games - the lack of peripheral information. Well, that and how incredibly non-HD broadcasts apparently were in those days!
I've never been to a perfect game or no-hitter in person. Not even close. I'm not sure what I'd do if an opposing pitcher came in and took one into those later innings. I'd probably still be cheering for one of our hitters to break it up. Sure, it's a memorable event, but so is being present at Kennedy's assassination. Being memorable doesn't make it necessarily a good thing!
It seems perfect games and no-hitters usually tend to have one play like the above, which could easily have become a hit. The later these are, the more pivotal they seem. Here's a compilation video of these.
It may look like no one's sitting next to me now, but the truth is no one ever sat next to me anyway. Ask Gonzo! #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
The first rule of Perfect Game Club is, you don't talk about Perfect Game Club... Though, that said:
Gracie just mentioned the no-hitter. TAKE THAT ALL YOU JINX THEORISTS! #RJPerfectGame— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) May 18, 2016
Lucky, Gracie. Very, very lucky...
Oh and I should've gotten the green light to hit that inning! #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
Randy Johnson was a career .125 hitter, and had an OPS+ of -22. Among the 4,441 major-league players since the 19th century with at least 600 PA, his OPS+ ranks 4,428th. I'm fine with Bob Brenly's decision. :)
When you get into the 9th inning, it can easily creep into your mind. Now I know I have a chance. #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
I can't imagine the pressure at that point. I know the studies say "there's no such thing as clutch", but I would be completely reduced to a mental puddle on the mound. This is why I am not a professional athlete. Actually, one of quite a few reasons. Collect the set!
Release Robby Hammock.— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) May 18, 2016
So many flashbacks. So many good plays from the team. Just glad I was able to finish something that's eluded a lot of people. #RJPerfectGame— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 18, 2016
It remains one of the most memorable days in Diamondbacks history. Many franchises' fans will never get to see one of their pitchers throw a perfect game - the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates, for instance, are still waiting for their first, despite having been charter members of the National League in 1900. Who knows when we will see its like again?