The ever-charming Randy Johnson went after the New York media again today.
“That’s the one thing that didn’t sit very well is, ‘Oh, he’s surly’ and all that,” he said in Arizona. “Well, you’re damn right if you’re going use me as a floor mat and not going to know me, then yeah. I don’t want to sit down and give you my time if you have your mind made up of your perception of me.”
True story: Last season was my first covering the Yankees and I went around and introduced myself to those players I didn’t know. Randy shook my hand and thanked me for introducing myself. We chatted for a few minutes and I walked away thinking, “Hey, he’s not such a bad guy.”
Two days later I was working on a story on Chien-Ming Wang and he mentioned to me that he had worked out in Phoenix with Randy was inspired by the future Hall of Famer. I asked Randy if he had a moment to discuss Wang and he said, “Why are you asking me about him?” Then he walked away.
I tried again a few minutes later, same thing. So I gave up. It continued like that all season.
He was a tough guy to approach and a tough guy to get a good quote from. he even totally blew us off after a few games he started. That doesn’t make him a bad person. But he is being disingenuous to say nobody tried to get to know him. Plenty of people tried and he didn’t let us.
Whether you like the media or not, this is fact: Johnson asked to be traded to the Yankees and he asked for a contract extension. He wanted the big money and got it. Having to deal with reporters is part of playing in New York and every athlete knows that.
Randy is one of the best pitchers in baseball history. But for a man of his accomplishments, he is oddly insecure, combative and unhappy.
Meanwhile, I spent a few hours tonight at a restaurant in Tampa with Kei Igawa, who invited the New York beat writers out for dinner along with a bunch of the Japanese media.
He asked us questions about our jobs and we spoke to him about his impressions of the U.S. There was even a nice “good luck” toast at the beginning. Igawa seems like he really wants to fit in and help the Yankees.
Randy pretends he’s the victim. Igawa, meanwhile, was making a genuine effort. Quite a contrast in styles.