Fans weigh in on Big Unit's start
Yankees faithful split on Johnson in Game 3
NEW YORK -- Last season, Yankees fans bemoaned the lack of a dominant, clear No. 1 momentum-stopping starter.
The team responded by trading for Randy Johnson, lifting the hopes -- and expectations -- of those fans.
Friday night, Johnson was tabbed to start Game 3 of the Yankees' American League Division Series matchup with the Angels, and most Yankees fans entering the Stadium felt confident in their team's chances.
Pete Rodriguez, who was wearing a Johnson jersey T-shirt, called the union of Johnson and Game 3 perfect.
"That's exactly why we got him," Rodriguez said. "He can just stop the momentum of the Angels, immediately."
Newlywed Ken Susi was attending the game with his wife, Sarah, and summed up the situation thusly:
"He's a big-game pitcher; Game 3 is a big game," he said. "That's why we got him."
Susi said he would have been nervous if Johnson had continued showing the inconsistency that marked his early starts. But Susi said that Johnson's recent success encouraged him.
Ray Romano (not the comedian) of New Jersey echoed the sentiment, saying that even though Johnson sports a 2-7 career record in Division Series play, the lefty is still the starter Romano wants pitching in a pressure situation.
"It's a very relaxed feeling to come to the stadium with him on the mound," Romano said. "[But] I wish he was coming to close it out."
But not all Yankees fans were true believers.
Jim Van Wichler, in true New York fashion, was a Johnson agnostic -- he wanted proof before committing his faith.
"I'll let you know after he pitches a good game," Van Wichler said.
And William Plant, of Brooklyn, reeled off a Johnson-questioning diatribe, pushing his belief that Mike Mussina was the Yankees' true ace.
"Randy Johnson don't impress me," Plant said. "I'm not impressed with Randy Johnson -- I'm impressed with winning. Randy Johnson joined our franchise. We didn't need him, to be honest."
However, Plant did point out that Johnson beat the Red Sox five times in six starts during the regular season. He noted the importance of those crucial wins, which helped the Yankees take the season series, and subsequently the AL East title, from Boston.
Regardless of any personal feelings toward Johnson, Mark DiDuci simply enjoyed the atmosphere, knowing that the ace would take the mound.
"It doesn't get any better than this," DiDuci said. "You can quote me on that."
Ben Couch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.