Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Out of Proportion

The media really cracks me up sometimes. A day after the Daily News and the New York Post ran a bit about Randy suing the mother of his illegitimate child, all the majors are in on it. Though, the two aforementioned papers kept the piece puffy, while the other two focused on the effect the situation will have on Mr. Johnson’s performance to open the season. This is how each opened their respective article:

From the Daily News:

Randy Johnson's teenage love child broke her silence yesterday - saying "it hurts" that the Yankees superstar has shunned her and is playing legal hardball with her mother.

Heather Roszell, 16, has never spoken to her millionaire dad and says her letters to him have mostly gone unanswered over the years.

"I'm not sure I even want to see him after what he's putting my mom through," said Roszell, a willowy, 6-foot-1 blond. "And I just don't think it's fair for children not to have a relationship with their parents."

An equally sassy opening from the Post (which hilariously bore the headline, “My Damn Dad Blew Me Off”):

The heartbroken love child of Yankee superstar Randy Johnson yesterday broke her silence for the first time to describe how the peevish pitcher coldly responded to letters she sent him as a little girl pleading to meet him.

"I would get cards back from him with just his signature - 'Randy,' " said Heather Renee Roszell, 16, who bears a striking resemblance to her "Big Unit" father.

The teen said she stopped writing to her dad after awhile because "I never got [more of] a response, so it got to the point where I didn't want to deal with not getting the response."

She said she can't even bring herself to watch her famous dad pitch on TV anymore.

Newsday, proving they’ll never grab the headline-hungry attentions of New Yorkers, opened with a re-hash of the situation:

Randy Johnson never specifically cited his embarrassment over shoving a cameraman in Manhattan in January 2005 as a reason for his struggles, but Joe Torre has always said it set the tone for Johnson's rocky first year in pinstripes.

Now Johnson finds himself in another sensitive situation, as details of his private life are becoming public knowledge.

A celebrity-news-driven Web site, The Smoking Gun, has posted a copy of the court petition Johnson filed last month attempting to reclaim nearly $100,000 from the mother of his first child in a dispute over how the money apparently was being used.

::Yawn:: Wasn’t this yesterday’s news? Couldn’t I have picked up a copy of the Post or the Daly News yesterday? I’m not trying to tout the two major tabloids here, but I have to hand it to them. They picked up on a hot story a day before it escalated, and could afford to run puff pieces while the others were stuck doling out the facts of the situation. In fact, the Post took it one step further, not only running the above quoted piece, but two others. George King had to get in on the action, posting his own article about the distraction factor, and Larry Brooks had to weigh in as well. Rounding out the tabloids, the grizzled David Hinckley at the Daily News offers his view, which will be ignored by these eyes.

The Newark Star Ledger took a slightly different angle, diving right into the distraction issue from the get-go:

Randy Johnson said yesterday that this week's revelation he fathered a daughter more than 16 years ago will not be a distraction as he prepares for his second season with the Yankees.

"I don't believe it is," Johnson said. "I'm ready to pitch."

Johnson is scheduled to make his final spring tune-up today in minor-league camp.

He issued a statement through agent Barry Meister: "In response to questions about my personal life, I do acknowledge that I have a daughter from a previous relationship which ended years before my marriage. I have fully financially supported her and have made every effort to protect her privacy and have tried to make decisions in her best interests. As this is a personal matter unrelated to my professional life, I will have no further comment, and I hope you, too, will respect the privacy of everyone concerned."

I’m the guy who despises the treatment of celebrities as idolatries, yet I’m hot on this issue. Not only that, I’ve gone so far as to praise the two major tabloids for turning the story into a soap opera. There is justification behind this, however. See, celebrities don’t really “do” anything to deserve the attention. They act in movies and TV shows, sure, but they get multiple chances to get it right. If athletes got multiple chances, Randy wouldn’t have let 32 balls leave the park last year.

Most surprisingly, ESPN doesn’t have anything regarding this story on their MLB index, though there are a few podcasts about it on the Yankees team page (and who the hell goes that?).

This is what you get when you play for the Yankees. Every on and off-field issue is examined with an electron microscope so finely tuned it not only picks up miniscule issues, but blows them out of proportion. Had Randy still been with the D-Backs, this would have been a one-day issue for their local paper, and that would have been it. In this day of free-flowing information, it would have gotten a feature on Pro Sports Daily yesterday, and then been out of the running by today. But this is New York, and the issue prevails.

But hey, it’s not like anyone is ignorant to what they’re walking into when they put ink to parchment for the Yankees, right?