The best comment Tuesday came from a teammate.
Curt Schilling phoned fellow Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson not only to wish him well in his bid for a third straight National League Cy Young Award but to relay thanks.
"He was calling me today to thank me for getting him to this next level that he's at," Johnson said. "I thought that was probably the most flattering comment that I've gotten in my career to this point."
The World Series co-MVPs and NL's best pitchers spent the season pushing each other to a world championship.
Johnson was just a bit better on the way there.
The hard-throwing left-hander, who finished with a 21-6 record and 2.49 ERA while leading the majors in strikeouts during the regular season, received 30 of 32 first-place votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to finish 58 points ahead of Schilling.
The Cardinals' Matt Morris was third, followed by Chicago's Jon Lieber and Houston rookie Roy Oswalt.
"I definitely thought he had a chance," Johnson said of Schilling. "This was a pleasant surprise to win this award. I know Curt's happy for me.
"I told him, before we knew who won it, that I would be happy for him if he won and he was happy for me if I won. It's been that kind of year this year."
Johnson's fourth overall Cy Young Award _ he won his first with Seattle in 1995 _ placed him in exclusive company. Only Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens have four or more.
Clemens is expected to win his sixth when the American League winner is announced Thursday.
"This has been a dream season," said Johnson, who earned $1-million in bonuses and contract incentives for winning the Cy Young. "Not because of the Cy Young Award but because another dream was fulfilled."
His 372 strikeouts were most in the majors for the eighth season in a row and third all-time. Nolan Ryan had 383 in 1973 and Sandy Koufax 382 in 1965.
More significant, perhaps, Johnson destroyed the notion he wasn't a big-game pitcher. He went 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 47 strikeouts in six postseason games, including wins in Games 6 and 7 in the World Series.
"Physically, I'm up and walking around now," he said, laughing. "It's all been pretty surreal. I've been on the move since the World Series and really haven't had time to just kind of sit back and reflect on the year."
At 22-6 with a 2.98 ERA and 293 strikeouts during regular season, Schilling was nearly as impressive. He received two first-place votes.
They are the third pair of teammates to finish 1-2 in Cy Young voting. The others were Don Newcombe and Sal Maglie of the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers and Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith of the 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I'm 38 years old and I feel like age is just a number," Johnson said.
Though life hasn't slowed much since he and Schilling helped bring a world championship to Arizona _ Johnson and his wife went on a four-day vacation, and a business trip to Japan begins today _ Johnson already is looking forward to spring training.
"The one thing that keeps me going is I'm just never content with anything," he said. "If I was to retire today, I would say that this is probably my best year. But I'd like to think that with hard work and determination I can get better."
NL CY YOUNG
1. Randy Johnson, Arizona 30
2. Curt Schilling, Arizona 2
3. Matt Morris, St. Loius -
4. Jon Lieber, Chicago -
5. Roy Oswalt, Houston -