I went to my first San Francisco Giants game in about six years yesterday. My parents and I went to see Randy Johnson face Roy Oswalt and the Houston Astros. It wasn’t the best day for the Big Unit– he gave up three solo home runs and left with an injured shoulder in the fourth inning. Oswalt looked more like the Johnson of old, holding the Giants to one-run in eight innings. Houston prevailed 7-1, a far cry from the last Giants game I attended when Barry Bonds blasted a walk-off home run against some hapless reliever. Still, it was cool to see 45-year-old living legend Johnson in action, maybe for the last time.
My dad asked me before the game who my favorite player was, while we sat in our seats halfway down the left-field foul line watching warmups. It occurred to me that I don’t have too many guys I support these days. I like Ken Griffey Jr. and Josh Hamilton, I follow American League pitchers Garrett Olson and Ricky Romero because I used to cover them in college, and Washington Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson went to my high school. Still, it’s not like when I was a kid and I idolized Will Clark. Heck, even as a young Giants fan, I once ran around my front yard pretending to be Kirk Gibson doing his home run stagger in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The modern game just doesn’t fill me with the same wonder.
The argument could be made that my perspective has merely changed as an adult. Still, I know that if I were offered the chance to see someone from the 1950’s or ’60s play, I could name a dozen guys off the top of my head who I would pay to see play in a heartbeat. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Jackie Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Pete Rose and Willie McCovey all come quickly to mind. It’s like getting the chance to watch The Beatles, Michael Jackson or Elvis in concert. Come to think of it, I should really catch the Rolling Stones while it’s still possible.
There just aren’t as many comtemporary players who compare. I was glad to see Johnson do his thing, and I’ll probably catch Griffey one more time. From there, who knows.