In the coming days, people throughout baseball will pay homage to Randy Johnson, who is announcing his retirement today. They’ll talk about his power, his ferocity, his toughness. They’ll recall his pitch to John Kruk in the All-Star Game, and how he helped put Seattle baseball on the map. All around the baseball media world, men and women will leap from their seats to praise the Big Unit.
But not me.
I have nothing but negative thoughts for Randy Johnson, a brilliant pitcher but a pathetic human being. I covered baseball for a good chunk of time. I had direct access to such unpleasant men as Will Clark, John Rocker, Barry Bonds, Arthur Rhodes. But nobodyâ€”and I mean absolutely nobodyâ€”possessed the pure dismissive cruelty of Randy Johnson.
I’ve heard it a million timesâ€”no one cares how athletes treat the media. Well, I care. And Johnson was a punk. He bullied reporters, he snarled at reporters, he occasionally threatened reporters. He is one of the far-too-many professional athletes who believes the ability to throw a round piece of animal skin 100 mph grants you the right to treat other human beings as dog excrement. Just ask anyone who covered Johnson during his days in Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, New York and, lastly, San Francisco. He was a first-class pitcher and a first-class creep.
Should that prevent people from voting Johnson into the Hall of Fame? Of course not. His record of greatness is undeniableâ€”303 wins, 4,875 strikeouts, a World Series title. But when you think of Randy Johnson, I urge you not to remember the 6-foot-10 pitching giant, but the little man who inhabited his body.