“Randy Johnson is intimidating!” That statement by my youngest daughter may just be the biggest understatement ever pronounced. From his playing days the 6’ 10” Johnson was larger than life but the chip he had on his shoulder dwarfed his tall stature.
I remember watching him snarl at opposing players and teammates alike on days he was pitching. You would walk away grateful he was on our side instead of being an opposing player.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks announced that Johnson would be one of the four Legends in the Legends race it was a natural. Johnson’s competitiveness was well documented and you knew he would take each race seriously and want to win.
What I had not expected was the level of his intensity or that one day that intensity would be directed at me.
Before the game the Legends made their way along the race route as has become ritual each night. Almost as soon as they appeared in the Nationals bullpen Johnson had his game face on. His foam eyes glared out from under the black Diamondbacks hat and his polyester mouth was sewn into a perpetual snarl.
Mark Grace on the other hand bounced around like a school kid with a new binder as though he hadn’t a care in the world despite going 0-18 in the Legends races. The nonchalant attitude of Grace obviously irritated the Big Unit as Johnson began slapping Grace around.
The Legends made their way to the bottom of Section 132 where Johnson waited impatiently for security to open the gate and allow him to make his way to the main concourse. When the gate was finally opened the four Legends began walking up the aisle among their adoring fans.
I was watching closely to see if I could perhaps spot any weaknesses that might predict who would win tonight’s race. Suddenly I looked up to see Johnson standing in the row right in front of me.
His 12-foot giant head cowering over my seats blocking out all light. I have to admit it startled me. There I was standing face to adam’s apple with a Diamondbacks Legend. I attempted to say hello but no sound would come out of my mouth.
Johnson did not appear to be in a talking mood. He glared at me with his menacing foam eyes and pointed from his neck to me and back to himself. I don’t speak Legend but I think he meant that his neck would be watching me.
After he left, the people sitting around me asked, “what did you do to Randy Johnson?” Nothing, I swear I didn’t do anything! I was obviously a little taken aback by the confrontation and decided what I needed was a walk around the concourse. I made sure we went the opposite direction from the Legends, that’s all I needed was one of them chasing me down and pummeling me to the concrete.
As game time neared, my daughter and I made our way back to our seats. When we arrived I could tell the people sitting around us were extremely agitated talking wildly in hushed tones. I approached and boy sitting behind me stammered, “Uh, Randy Johnson came back and he put this sign on your seat. That dude was scary!”
I looked down and there in my seat was a large piece of poster board with the words “LetGraceWin.com” and a giant question mark. I stood there staring at the sign. In the distance there was Johnson again signaling that his neck would be watching me.
Oh my gosh, I am being stalked by a 12-foot polyester and foam mascot! My mind raced with thoughts of seeing a guy with a giant head around every corner hiding behind trees and really tall shrubs. This could not be good.
I have to admit, I was a little preoccupied when the race came about. As the Legends left the bullpen all I could envision was Johnson running past the finish line towards Section 132 and pummeling me with his giant foam nose.
For the first time I realized the power of intimidation. Johnson had not only gotten into my head (not literally, his giant foam head would make my skull explode) but he had also psyched out his opponents.
Poor Grace, he tried hard tonight but every time he made a move towards the front, Johnson would smack him around sending him to the back of the race. The winner tonight was Johnson but a couple of steps.
After the race he continued his intimidation kicking Grace in the butt and publicly humiliating Matt Williams and Luis Gonzalez. For a second I wondered if I should create a new web site called MakeJohnsonLose.com but honestly I am too scared.
Poor Grace, he suffered another defeat running his current streak to 0-19. Hang in there, we’re all pulling for you and the day you finally beat Johnson, we will all join you in your victory dance finally free from the intimidation and butt kicking.