Media blitz of Lo Duca's personal life beyond absurd
Posted: Wednesday August 16, 2006 11:19AM; Updated: Wednesday August 16, 2006 3:28PM
Paul Lo Duca's private life has overshadowed recent world events on the New York Post's front page.
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All right, I'm calling Uncle. I have officially had enough of Paul Lo Duca's love life.
Look, any honest former sorority girl will admit that a little gossip can be entertaining. Any self-respecting sportswriter who helps feed this athletes-as-icons world has to be willing to report when someone shouldn't be a role model. But during these last nine days in New York City, we have formally moved into the realm of the absurd.
It all started when Lo Duca, the generally genial Mets catcher, declared that he wasn't talking to reporters anymore. He wouldn't say why, and he promised we'd find out soon enough. Shortly thereafter, the New York Post ran a story saying that Lo Duca's wife, Sonia, had filed for divorce and that one of the reasons she listed was adultery.
The divorce papers didn't give any details, Sonia refused to rip her husband, and even Lo Duca's mother-in-law wouldn't say anything nasty. But the tabloid still slapped the story across its front page in screaming mega-font. I thought that was a little bizarre.
I mean, the Mets are one of the best teams in baseball, and Lo Duca has been a major contributor, hitting .313, playing through a broken bone in his hand and managing some of the nuttiest pitchers in the game. I can even vouch for him as a relatively likable guy. He's got this acerbic wit, he knows his soccer and he's got a wicked collection of T-shirts.
But the front page of a major newspaper? On the day after Hezbollah unleashed its deadliest attack yet, Iran told the U.N. it was dreaming if it thought the country would give up trying to build a nuclear bomb, and the Mets locked up bona fide superstar David Wright? And yet, we were just getting started.
On Aug. 8, the Post ferreted out one of Sonia Lo Duca's ex-boyfriends and ran a story that said Paul was an improvement over the "ex-football cavemen" types she used to date. The New York Daily News, meanwhile, chased Paul up to a charity event at Saratoga Race Track and asked him if he had a gambling problem. (He said he didn't.)
That afternoon, as Mets fans welcomed back Mike Piazza -- who, incidentally, once called a press conference to announce he wasn't the gay ballplayer referred to in a Post blind item -- Lo Duca held a press conference. He said he loved his wife and begged for privacy.
The next day the Daily News wrote that in addition to Sonia's two Playboy magazine appearances and Playboy Web spread, she had once appeared in a soft-core porn DVD. The Post ran a story about 19-year-old Krista Guterman, who said she met Paul at an 18-and-over night at a Long Island bar in April and that they'd been dating ever since. "He's fun -- for an older man," Guterman told the paper.
Lo Duca's 34. I couldn't make this stuff up. Even if my mother had let me watch soap operas.
A day later, the Post gotthe president of a sorority Guterman rushed at SUNY-Oneonta to call Guterman an aspiring boyfriend-stealer, an accomplished man-juggler and an apparent exhibitionist. The Daily News used six writers -- six! -- to land the scoop that a former teammate remembered Lo Duca playing poker on the Marlins' team plane.
Did I mention that the Mets were on a five-game winning streak at the time? And that Lo Duca was batting .400 over the previous month?
After that there were the stories that bookies have stalked Lo Duca at Shea and that a bookie once called the Marlins claiming Lo Duca owed him money. There was the story where Mets GM Omar Minaya said he has no reason to believe Lo Duca has a gambling problem, and the one where Major League Baseball said its spring-training gambling seminar wasn't prompted by Lo Duca.
Sonia Lo Duca sat in her San Antonio home, thanking her lucky stars that daughter Bella isn't tall enough to reach a computer, the Mets went 15 up on the Phillies and I went to Montreal for the weekend figuring this silliness was finally dying down.
It wasn't. On Tuesday, the Post found another 19-year-old, Christina Alisio, who works in a Philadelphia betting parlor and said she had hooked up with Lo Duca last summer. That qualified as front-page news. "He's all right," Alisio said about Lo Duca's off-the-diamond skills, "but below what I expected."
OK, if anyone out there really feels that their life is enriched by having that information, please tell me. Actually, don't. I've had enough.