THE BIG EASY
Once surly, the five-time Cy Young winner turned diplomat is making amends. After his Hall of Fame induction, he traveled to Japan on a goodwill tour on behalf of the Diamondbacks.
DAN PATRICK:How are you treated in Japan?
RANDY JOHNSON: Like I'm Godzilla. [Laughs.]
DP:How long would it take for you to pitch again?
RJ: Well, if I hadn't ended my career in 2009 with a torn [left] rotator cuff....
DP:What if you hadn't had 300 wins yet? Would you have contemplated coming back?
RJ: My last year in Arizona, in 2008, I was five or six wins away. If I had been 15 or 20 away, I probably would have considered retiring because I was 45 years old. I have thought about that scenario a few times. I do feel extremely blessed that I got my 300th win before I tore my rotator cuff. Had I torn it beforehand, I may have been at 298 or 299.
DP:When did you first realize you could intimidate hitters?
RJ: When I got a little bit of control and consistency. Prior to that, anything I was throwing had no control. Whether batters were intimidated or scared, I wasn't even thinking about that. I was more thinking about trying to throw strikes. Then when I started learning how to throw controlled strikes and understood how you could throw inside or under someone's chin, that became part of my sequence of pitches.
DP:I recently saw that the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl did a cover of Rush's "Tom Sawyer," and I know you're a big Rush fan. The Diamondbacks even gave you a replica of the set Rush drummer Neil Peart uses.
RJ: Yes, it's his 30-year anniversary drum kit. I know Dave from my Seattle days. Once in 1990--91 I was with a good friend of mine, Kim Thayil, who is the guitar player for Soundgarden, and we went to a small club. It may have been one of Dave's first shows on the drums with Nirvana.
DP:Did you understand how big Nirvana was going to be at the time?
RJ: No, they were just part of the scene like everybody else. None of those bands were big outside Seattle at the time. It's like when I got there in '89 after being traded from Montreal and hearing the buzz about Starbucks. Who ever thought Starbucks would be where it is now?
DP:One day while you were pitching with the Diamondbacks, Mark Grace and Luis Gonzalez told me to go talk to you because you loved to talk to people on the day you were pitching. It didn't go well.
RJ: You know, Dan, I'm trying to track down some of the hitters I may have pissed off or some of the reporters from back then. [Laughs.] No hard feelings. That was just part of me being me. You know that saying, "Manny being Manny"? That was just RJ being RJ on game day. I'm definitely not like that now.
I asked Texans quarterback and former Patriot Brian Hoyer if J.J. Watt reminds him of any of his former teammates. "Tom Brady," Hoyer said. "Like Brady, he's obsessed with being perfect. Obsessed with his craft. There's similar desire there." ... Jane Rosenberg's unflattering courtroom sketch of Brady during last week's Deflategate hearing drew a lot of attention. "People found me on my personal email and just started writing me nasty comments," Rosenberg told me. "It's shocking that people would waste their time to do this." ... I asked Bears linebacker Jared Allen if he ever wanted to punch one of his quarterbacks. "I've been fortunate enough to play with some cool quarterbacks," Allen said. "I don't have a problem with Jay [Cutler], but I know a lot of people seem to."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
MIKE GROLL/AP (JOHNSON)
JESSE WARD/NY DAILY NEWS (ROSENBERG)
NAM Y. HUH/AP (ALLEN)