Commentary

Rain wins, Big Unit forced to wait

Johnson's attempt at career win No. 300 pushed to Thursday

Originally Published: June 4, 2009
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

WASHINGTON -- Their day began at the White House, where the San Francisco Giants met the first family. It ended at Nationals Park, where the first left-hander -- or at least the tallest left-hander -- was supposed to get to try to meet a little history of another kind.

Well, one out of two ain't bad.

Turned out Randy Johnson's biggest obstacle to win No. 300 Wednesday wasn't those 14-36 Washington Nationals. It was the still-undefeated Weather Gods.

After 3 hours and 41 minutes of fun-filled weather-delay action, the Nationals and Giants finally gave up Wednesday night. So the Big Unit will try it again Thursday afternoon, in the 4:35 opener of a good old-fashioned twinight doubleheader.

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AP Photo/Nick WassThe weather was supposed to cooperate with Randy Johnson eventually on Wednesday. It never did.

Asked whether he thought about starting Johnson in Game 2 of that doubleheader, Giants manager Bruce Bochy got what might be described as a, well, quizzical look on his face -- the kind of look he might have had if, say, someone had asked him whether he would rather have started this game at 4:12 a.m.

"It was always the first game," Bochy said. "We talked to him, and he's all set to go in the first game. We didn't really want him sitting around. After all the sitting around [Wednesday], we didn't think it would be a real good idea to have him sitting around [Thursday] watching the first game, too."

Hey, excellent point.

And how did the man of the hour handle all that sitting around Wednesday night, as the entire Potomac River apparently launched itself into the sky and dropped on top of the neighborhood ballpark?

"He was mean, man," quipped Giants outfielder Randy Winn. "Really mean. He was in here throwing stuff. He even broke a TV -- and then fixed it. That was the most amazing part. He fixed it after he broke it."

OK, in fact, Winn admitted, the Unit didn't do any of that. He was actually "just like everyone else," Winn said, "pacing around, waiting for the game to start."

Little did he know he would have had to pace for the next 21 hours, though. And neither did anyone else.

At first, Nationals officials informed the assembled media throng that there would be a slight pregame rain delay but then the skies would clear and everything would be fine.

Then, an hour and a half later, with no rain falling and the field completely drained, the tipoff that trouble was brewing came when the game showed no sign of actually beginning. Then came the next update -- that another hour of rain was coming but then they'd start at 10 p.m. or so.

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Greg Fiume/Getty ImagesThere was a lot of standing and waiting as rain fell at Nationals Park.

But an hour after that -- with monsoon-drops still falling and the looming spectacle of a man making baseball history at, like, 3 a.m. -- the umpires decided the field was unplayable.

So your final score, if you're scoring at home, was Mother Nature 1, Baseball Doppler Experts 0.

"It was a long day -- to do nothing," Bochy said afterward, not too euphorically.

So what did they do?

"Nothing too innovative," Winn reported. "A lot of cards were played. A little Xbox. And a lot of eating. We had some interesting eating. People were pulling out some interesting snacks. Like M&M cookies. I never even knew they had those."

And the king of that interesting eating, Winn revealed exclusively, was outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

"He really put on an impressive display of culinary consumption," Winn said. "Like, I went in the food room a couple of different times, and he was still encamped. But the remnants on his plate were different, though. So I knew he was eating different stuff."

Thursday, on the other hand, will bring another shot at the same stuff Johnson was hoping to accomplish Wednesday night. The Unit didn't speak to the media afterward, but Bochy didn't appear real worried about Johnson's ability to cope with this minor change in plans.

"Look at his career," Bochy said. "He's been through everything."

Well, just about. So No. 300 could wait. But this little rain debacle did cost the Giants a shot at one of the most unique daily doubles ever -- meeting the president in the morning, being part of a 300th win in the evening. Asked which was the highlight of the day in retrospect, the White House or the raindrops, Winn didn't need to reflect long.

"The White House, for sure," he said. "The sitting around waiting? Uhhhhh, no."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His new book, "Worth The Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores and online. Click here to order a copy.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com