Let R. Johnson throw home - to Paradise Valley, Ariz.

OTHER VOICES

The Kickoff

May 11, 2006|By JON HEYMAN | JON HEYMAN,NEWSDAY

An open letter to Randy Johnson:

Perhaps you were on to something when you recently said you'd "walk away" if you could no longer pitch like you used to.

If you think about it, retirement to your home in awfully idyllic-sounding Paradise Valley, Ariz., offers you a lot of pluses.

For instance, there are no umpires to mess up your day in Paradise Valley.

There are no teammates to let you down, to fumble grounders and to drop fly balls. You and I know who I mean, Randy. Yes, Alex Rodriguez, who makes more than you (the indignity of it all!), and that famed Triple-A stalwart Melky "Shaky" Cabrera, who teamed up to sabotage you in your 14-3 defeat Tuesday night.

In Paradise Valley, there are no pitching coaches to annoy you, no ill-informed writers to rip you, no nosy cameramen to snap your picture.

Picture this: You hail a cab this morning and get out of this town you were never cut out for. Maybe leaving would even cause you to smile for the first time since you got here.

Picture this: The next time we see you is July 2011, at Cooperstown. Take your own advice, Big Unit. You are 42 and suddenly very ordinary. Take the retirement Rolex and get outta' here, big fella'.

If you left, you'd never again have to deal with, listen to or see Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Charlie Reliford, big hitters like Mark Loretta and Alex Gonzalez, tabloid writers, the clubhouse rubdown guy, or anyone else you'd normally care to blame for making you look bad last night.

You didn't even sound like yourself afterward. You sounded downright contrite when you said, "I don't remember the last time I pitched a good ballgame." You know, of course, that people around the Yankees are starting to believe that you and New York simply aren't a winning mix. You look nervous. You tense up. You appear as tight as David Wells in size-30 jeans.

You threatened a day or two ago that you'd "walk away" if you could no longer pitch like you used to. Judging by last night's effort, when you didn't pitch like a broken-down Kevin Brown used to, maybe that's the best remedy of all.

You've had your Hall of Fame career. You've had great moments, many against the Yankees, and practically none for them.

This is no time, 20 years in, to start injecting Rick Ankiel moments, Randy. You have to know that.

The one and only reason for you to stay would be to collect all the loot you have coming to you. Since you probably came here for the green stuff, anyway, the guess here is you ignore my advice - and your own promise and you keep pitching.

Your contract, which calls for you to make aprroximately $29 million more, is nothing more than an albatross around your neck. I know it's a tough thing to turn down, even if you have 423 gazillion dollars in your passbook savings account at Paradise Valley Savings and Loan, as you do.

Even so, that contract must seem interminable today. It's due to expire after next year, when you turn 87.

Randy, there are so many more reasons to walk away. You'd no longer have to endure umpires calling balls, just because they fly over the head of Posada (that fool!). You'd no longer have nights when you walk five in 3 2/3 innings. You'd no longer have to watch balls bounce off A-Rod's body (what is it, made of gold?) to open the floodgates of undeserved embarrassment.

You'd no longer have to suffer humiliating defeats. And even better, you'd no longer have to talk about them afterward to writers you have no use for.

If you quit, you would no longer have to endure in-game pep talks, as you did last night, from that Jason Giambi (where did that guy learn to field, anyway?), that Ron Guidry and that Posada, who won't even shine your shoes when you ask nicely.

And by the way, where was your buddy Kelly Stinnett when you needed him? You know your numbers don't even tell the story of the unadulterated unraveling you experienced in almost the worst circumstances possible, before a full house at Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox. You had your worst day as a Yankee, worse than the first day, when you pushed that CBS cameraman, who had the gall to direct the lens at your balled-up fist.

Things may get slightly better from here. But you'll never be the pitcher you once were. You know that by now.

You probably won't do it, I know, but you really should honor your vow, and walk away. You don't deserve this sort of aggravation.

Paradise Valley awaits.

Jon Heyman writes for Newsday.

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