Friday, May 29, 2009

And Now You Know!: The Big Train

I had a recent discussion with a fellow baseball fan and we spoke about 300 wins by a pitcher. Are we about to witness the last time it will ever happen, assuming Randy Johnson gets one win by season's end? Think about that, what if I told you that tomorrow morning would be the last time the sun would rise? You would probably want to watch it, granted Randy Johnson is on a lower level of things happening in comparison to the sun never rising again, but still, its a big deal for a baseball fan.

A look at anyone close would point to Jamie Moyer (249 wins) to be next, but that won't happen. Someone like Roy Halladay has 139 wins at age 32 after 12 season. Unlikely he'll see 250. Andy Pettitte has 219 wins and the list of guys who won't come close grows longer and longer. You have to look to the young guys to find anyone with a possibility. One guy who sticks out is Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has 130 wins in 9 seasons. He would need 10 more years averaging 17 wins, which coincidentally is his 162 game average.

So with no one getting close to the 23 guys already with 300 wins I take a second to talk about the guy in second all-time in wins with 417 wins, trailing only Cy Young's 511. The Big Train Walter Johnson had numbers that are inconceivable.

The Big Train played for just one team his entire career while amassing the 417 victories. From 1907-1927 he suited up for the Washington Senators. His fastball was unlike any other of his time, topping 90 MPH. Hitters were amazed by the smooth motion and rapid approach of the ball. He collected over 3,500 strikeouts, a record which stood for over 50 years. 110 shutouts, most in MLB history including pitching three straight shutouts versus the NY Highlanders at one point.

All those stats are great but which one of the following is more amazing. The fact that over his 20 year career he only gave up 97 homeruns in nearly 6000 innings pitched. Or that he went 42-97 (.433) hitting in 1925? It is amazing that there is no award for pitchers called the "Walter Johnson Award" a la Cy Young Award. In 1913 he went 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA when the leagues ERA was nearly 2.5 times that. It is judged by some as the most impressive single season pitching ever.

So as we prepare for the 300th victory by The Big Unit, lets pause for a second, listen to Tim Kurkjian on ESPN give a monologue with sorrowful music in the background, and wonder if we will ever see this again.

And Now You Know! (And Knowing is Half the Battle)

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