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ESPN’s MLB genie: Trade Webb’s injury for Randy Johnson WS moment?

Left, Brandon Webb (AP Photo/Matt York). Right, Randy Johnson (file photo)

What would you give for Brandon Webb to have remained healthy throughout his career?

ESPN has an interesting twist on the genie hypothetical.

Most fans have considered what they would wish for if they could make their favorite team better with the snap of a finger. But ESPN took this hypothetical a step further: This genie says something the team must give up in exchange. The wisher can decide if that curse is worth it.

For the Arizona Diamondbacks, the hypothetical fan asked for pitcher Brandon Webb to stay healthy throughout his career instead of injuring his shoulder on Opening Day of 2009 and never throwing in the MLB again.

The genie said OK. He can do that. But in exchange, Randy Johnson will not be able to pitch Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

Would you give up his inning for a full career of Webb?

The former D-backs ace was on track for a Hall of Fame career. With an elite sinker, Webb finished in the top-two of Cy Young voting three years in a row, winning in 2006 but falling to Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres in 2008 and San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum in 2008.

In 2007, Webb went 42 consecutive innings without allowing a run, which, at the time, was the sixth-longest ever.

For more context, ESPN’s Sam Miller wrote:

In the first six years of his career, he was second in the majors in WAR. Only eight pitchers in the live ball era produced more WAR in their first six years. He was essentially already pitching as a Hall of Famer — he just needed the longevity to cinch it. Then, overnight, shoulder injuries. Imagine Jacob deGrom starting Opening Day in 2020 and never pitching again. That’s basically what happened with Webb.

If Webb stayed healthy, who knows how the team would have produced as other players developed. The D-backs made the playoffs in 2011 behind MVP candidate Justin Upton, a strong pitching rotation and the late emergence of rookie Paul Goldschmidt. With those pieces plus Webb going forward, could that team have put together more, and deeper, postseason runs?

But in return, the D-backs would have to give up one of the iconic moments of Arizona sports history, a moment that could cost them the championship.

Johnson, who was in the third year of his four-year Cy Young run, entered Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with two outs in the top of the eighth inning with the D-backs trailing the New York Yankees 2-1.

He faced the heart of the Yankees order, sending down the No. 2 batter to end the eighth and Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in order in the ninth.

Now, the genie isn’t saying the D-backs would have lost the World Series if Johnson hadn’t pitched. The team would’ve just had to go with different relief pitchers.

Miguel Bautista retired Derek Jeter in the eighth before Johnson entered. Maybe in this alternate universe, Bautista would have stayed in for longer. Maybe Mike Morgan (4.2 scoreless innings in the World Series) or Greg Swindell (2.2 scoreless innings), would have pitched.

Or (gulp) Byung-Hyun Kim would have had a chance to redeem himself from the Game 4 and 5 meltdowns.

Are you confident enough in any of those situations going well enough and keeping the Yankees scoreless for 1.1 innings to give the D-backs’ offense a chance a chance for their rally?

You can vote on the Twitter poll:


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