Thanks Randy Johnson
A perfect 40. Thank you, Randy Johnson. The Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher became the oldest major leaguer to throw a perfect game recently. It doesn't get better than that in baseball. Twenty-seven batters up and 27 batters down.
Only 15 other pitchers have done that since 1880. And none of them as old as Johnson. The next oldest was Cy Young, the guy they named baseball's best pitcher award after. He was 37 and change when he tossed his perfect game in 1904.
It wasn't Johnson's first no-hit ball game. He did that 14 years ago. But like he said at 40, he's not the same pitcher he was when he was 26. He's much better now. Good enough with a little help from his friends to be perfect for one night.
Better with age gives those of us who are beyond 40 cause to hope. Hell, maybe we're capable of doing some pretty amazing things. Even past the age of 40. All we gotta do is get up off the couch and give it our best shot.
A Canadian champ
The spring marathon season is rapidly wrapping up. This weekend, Canada will crown its marathon champ for 2004 at the National Capital Race weekend in Ottawa. It's the country's biggest marathon and, this year, the official Canadian championship race.
In the days before the meet, more than 19,000 people had signed up for the various races.
Among the 73 men and women listed as elite, a few Canadians bear watching. Among the men, 37-year-old Bruce Deacon is the pre-race favourite. He's coming off a silver medal in the marathon at last year's Pan Am Games. He ran just over 2:20 in Santo Domingo last August, well off his personal best of 2:13:18 set in California in 2002. If Deacon's heart is set on a third consecutive trip to the Olympics, he'll need to finish in 2:14. That's the mark the Canadian Olympic Committee has set for Canadian men to qualify for the Olympic team.
In the women's race, 30-year-old Nicole Stevenson (2:33:37) and 37-year-old Carol Howe (2:34:29) should battle for top spot. But to win a trip to Athens, they'll have to come in at 2:28:15 or better.
The Ottawa race represents the last shot this year for a hopeful marathoner to get to Athens.
Musings on Mississauga
It may not have been one of the big ones but the inaugural Mississauga Marathon was pretty impressive. Organizers had hoped for 3,000 runners for the series of races on May 16. They attracted almost twice that 5,600. The city's feisty mayor 83-year-old Hazel McCallion even ran the first few yards with the front of the pack.
Seasonal weather persuaded me to try out this course, four weeks after the Boston steam bath. Even finished with a respectable time although it was looking grim around the 38-k mark.
Energy stores were low and the pace was slowing. Needed something to inspire me, to get me through those final few kilometres. Wouldn't you know it: just as the spirits flagged, a vision in sneakers and shorts too short to be described in polite company floated by. I settled back at a respectable distance. But as I was running out of gas, it soon became painfully apparent she had plenty to spare. Two short bursts of her internal booster rockets and the bloom was off the rose.
A new season
Like I said, the spring marathon season is rapidly coming to a close. Outside of Ottawa on May 30, there are only a handful of marathons scheduled in Canada until the late summer or fall mainly because it's a good idea to run these races when it's not too hot.
And that's got me slowing down a little bit, thinking about entering some of those shorter distance races. They're challenging, especially for a guy who doesn't get loose until the 15-k mark.
With the spring races behind me, I do sense a change in the air.
Got back from a very relaxed run last week, feeling that the seasons are shifting and that maybe summer just might be around the corner. Pulled off my sock and sure enough my biggest, blackest, Greekest toenail had finally fallen off. Only a couple more to go.
Think I will pull those sandals out of the back of my closet.