Johnson is a strange guy beyond that fact that he is 6-foot-11, left-handed and looks a roadie for Motley Crue.
• During Johnny Damon first season with the Yankees, there was a big game on a particular day and Johnson was pitching. Before the team went out to the field, Damon stood in the middle of the clubhouse and said something along the lines of, “Let’s go get ‘em, boys!” and Johnson promptly told Johnny in particularly obscene language to sit down and shut up.
Nobody knew what to say. Then again, nobody knew what to say to Johnson during his two years in New York. He barely spoke to his catchers. Even nicest guy in the world John Flaherty had words with him.
• When I started covering the Yankees in 2006, I made it a point to introduce myself in spring training to the players I didn’t previously know. I had heard Johnson was an ogre, but when I walked up, he thanked me for coming over, wished me well and said he would see me around.
I was impressed, figuring what I had heard about the Big Unit was all wrong. So the next day I approached Johnson to ask him some questions about Phil Hughes, about whom I was writing a feature story on. Who better to ask about pitching than a future Hall of Famer?
“Excuse me, Randy,” I said. “Can I ask you a question about Phil Hughes?”
Johnson looked down, made a face and said, “Hughes? What the $%&# do I know about Hughes?” Then he walked away. So much for us being pals.
But say this for Johnson: He was a young pitcher without much control who became one of the best of his generation. He may not have been the friendliest guy in baseball, but he could well be the last 300-game winner we ever see.
So good for him.
Tim Brown from Yahoo! Sports wrote a good piece on Johnson earlier this week.