It seems like an eternity ago that the Legends Races began at Chase Field. I still remember July 2, 2010 as if it were yesterday. At the conclusion of the fifth inning of that game against the Los Angeles Dodgers was the much-anticipated race pitting four Diamondbacks legends against each other in a foot race from the visitor’s bullpen to the home team’s dugout.
So many things pointed to tonight being the day that Mark Grace finally entered the win column. The series was the final home stand of the season so it would be poetic to finish the year with a win and build upon that in 2011.
Grace had lost 42 consecutive Legend races. The number 42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball to commemorate the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson. Robinson broke into the Major Leagues with the Dodgers, the opponent in tonight’s game.
Arguably this losing streak started that first night in July when Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez threw a towel at Grace distracting him and ultimately costing him the win. Ramirez has since been traded to the Chicago White Sox so all distractions have been eliminated opening the door for Grace to start new.
As I sat in the stands, I came up with reason after reason as to why Grace should win tonight. By the fifth inning I had constructed an airtight case proving Grace would be victorious for the first time all season.
When the fifth inning arrived not only was I convinced of a Grace victory, I had also convinced everyone sitting around me. We stood and cheered as the Legends emerged from the Dodgers bullpen running towards home plate.
Grace pulled out to an early lead followed by Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams, and Randy Johnson. Johnson came up to Gonzalez and shoved him staggering Gonzo and moving Johnson to third.
Johnson came up behind Williams and likewise muscled him to the rail taking over second place just before the Dodgers dugout. Grace was still cruising and my confidence was brimming.
As the racers came to the Dodgers on-deck circle Johnson had caught Grace and smacked him upside the polyester head stunning poor Grace. Johnson cruised by and in a show of defiance rounded the final turn with arms raised to take the victory.
Grace would finish second, a good showing but a loss nonetheless. Johnson’s actions did not go unpunished. Gonzalez, Williams, and Grace caught him after the finish line and proceeded to punch and kick Johnson all the way off the field of play and into the stands.
It looks like a rumble us brewing with two races left this season. The question remains, will Grace finally be victorious or is he already starting his rebuilding process looking forward to next year?