As San Francisco Giants left-hander Randy Johnson shoots for his 300th career victory tonight (weather permitting) against the Washington Nationals, I'm going to repost a column I wrote on August 13, 2007. This was in the aftermath of Tom Glavine's 300th win, when everyone was claiming that Glavine would be the last to reach the milestone.
Remember, 300-game winners are rare. But they are not extinct. They are not a dying breed. There will be another one, probably in your lifetime.
Here's the column:
I'm going to go out on a limb here: Tom Glavine will NOT be the last 300-game winner in Major League Baseball history. That seems like a pretty safe bet to me. After all, forever is a long time.
But you'd never know it by reading some of the reaction to Glavine's 300th victory last weekend at Wrigley Field. Columnists all across the country anointed Glavine as "the last of a dying breed."
As a teenager, I remember watching Nolan Ryan win his 300th game in 1990. At that time, he was declared "the last of the 300-game winners." Later, that title was transferred to Roger Clemens. Then to Greg Maddux. Now, it's Glavine's turn.
I'm not sure why people think 300-game winners are on the endangered species list. A quick check of baseball history suggests the opposite.
Only 23 men have ever reached the milestone, 11 of which achieved it before 1925.
From 1925 to 1982, only three hurlers reached 300 wins: Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn and Early Wynn.
Since 1982, there have been nine 300-game winners: Gaylord Perry, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, Ryan, Clemens, Maddux and Glavine. Nine in the last 25 years!
I'm not a math major, but it's clear to me that baseball has seen three times as many 300-game winners in the past 25 years as it did in the 57 years previous.
Randy Johnson currently sits at 284 wins. He's out for the season with a back injury that will require surgery. Will he retire? Possibly. But if he comes back and pitches another year or two, he'll probably be the next 300-game winner.
Looking around the league, commentators don't seen any other obvious candidates to join the 300 club. On that point, I would agree. But back in 1990, when Nolan Ryan won his 300th, Glavine was a three-year veteran with a subpar 33-41 lifetime record.
At that time, no one could have predicted how successful his career would turn out to be. And that's just my point. The 300-game winners aren't a dying breed. They are an extremely rare breed.
And the next one might be someone few are thinking about right now.