Posted: Wednesday March 29, 2006 1:57PM; Updated: Wednesday March 29, 2006 5:54PM
Randy Johnson shows off that famous scowl.
Ted Mase/Getty Images
The revelation Tuesday that Randy Johnson is suing a woman he dated 16 years ago for a refund of almost $100,000 in child-support money made me feel instantly sympathetic. Not to Johnson, who will earn $16 million this season and can certainly afford to lose this lawsuit, and not to the ex-girlfriend, who gets to brag that she once slept with a guy named "Big Unit."
No, the person I truly feel for is the 16-year-old girl who was just outed as Randy Johnson's love child. Sure, there are benefits to being RJ Jr. Not many kids have agent Alan Nero helping them negotiate a raise in their allowance. And she never has to worry about her dad getting mad when she gets a speeding ticket. "Only 80 miles an hour?"
But the perks are hardly worth all the problems she faces. For one thing, it can't be easy to be the only girl in your homeroom class who's more than six feet tall, even if it makes your slider more effective against lefties. And with the inevitable nickname "Little Unit," I'm sure she's not looking forward to the kinds of pickup lines you just know she'll hear.
She probably wishes she were Larry Johnson's love child instead. At least then she'd have a bunch of other kids who could identify with her.
If she wants to get back at her absentee father by rooting against the team he pitches for, she can take a number; America is already full of people who hate the Yankees. And getting good grades suddenly doesn't seem quite as impressive when your old man has five Cy Young awards. Got an A on your history test? Big deal -- Dad pitched a perfect game in 2004.
Oh, and there's also the fact that her father is known for being ornery, and it's a reputation he's worked hard to earn. While batting in a 1999 game, he thought that Colorado's Darryl Kile was pitching too far inside, so on the next pitch he swung at, the bat "accidentally" flew out of his hands toward the mound. A year later he got grazed by a 1-2 pitch from San Diego's Sterling Hitchcock and managed to keep the bat in his hands even while he charged the mound. And who can forget his first day in New York after joining the Yankees last January, when he screamed at a local TV news cameraman on a Manhattan sidewalk? The guy once brawled with a teammate in the Seattle clubhouse for playing music too loud. This is not the kind of man you want to bring to your piano recital.
As for the lawsuit, some people will say that we shouldn't judge Johnson without knowing both sides of the story. But even if Johnson really is entitled to the $97,000 he's suing for, he's got to know that taking that money will cause huge financial strains on his daughter's family at the very least, and may even prevent her from going to college. Sometimes it's not about being right.
This girl has every reason to be upset with a father who's been more absent in her life than he was for the Yankees in the first half of last season. Perhaps the best revenge would be to work hard, live a good life, and avoid repeating the mistakes of her parents. Or maybe she can just reconcile with him and go on to become a big country music star, like Tug McGraw's kid.
Adam Hofstetter's column appears every Wednesday on SI.com. He hopes his mother has never met Randy Johnson. E-mail him your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.