[Best of] Farewell, Jim Johnson

I thought today was appropriate to re-post this article Paul wrote in June. 

Johnson reared back and delivered the pitch.  Everyone knew what was coming – the two-seam fastball.

Manny took a mighty hack once again and once again I am pretty sure I stopped breathing as the ball made contact with the bat.

You know in the movies – especially sports films – how they go slow motion at a pivotal moment to hammer home how critical every second and every movement is?  This is as close as I have ever felt to that happening in real life.

At the point the ball made contact with the bat, it was like the entire stadium gasped.  Or maybe it was just me.  I looked down and there was the ball, bouncing harmlessly back towards the pitcher’s mound in front of home plate.  By the time my brain processed what was going on, Johnson had made his way off of the mound and fielded the ball.  The home team fans – cautiously – began to cheer.

Johnson fielded the ball and threw it to the catcher, Guillermo Quiroz.  Quiroz caught the ball for the out at the plate.  The O’s fans got louder.  At that juncture, Johnson had officially won the battle.  He had kept the run from scoring and for the time being, maintained the O’s two-run lead.

The play wasn’t over yet even if one battle was already won.  A real buzz made its way through the park as if the fans collectively came to the realization that the Orioles actually had a chance to turn a double play.  The reaction built the entire time going from a low murmur when the ball was put into play to a louder hum as Johnson recorded the first out.  When Quiroz turned and fired towards first base, the sound reached a fever pitched.  When the ball was caught at first base and the umpire signaled for the out, there was an explosion of noise.

It was the most welcomed double play I’ve ever saw.