SF’s excellent post about Selena Roberts’ myth-perpetuating rant got it just right. Roberts, who continues to be one of my least favorite sports scribes (Lupica tops the list) for her continual negativity, decided that Johnson’s apparent trade request was an admission on his part that New York had gotten to him, that he couldn’t handle the pressure. In a two page column, Roberts waxed poetic about just how difficult it is for some people to make it in the unsympathetic hell hole that is New York City. Travis Bickle would have been proud. It would have helped Roberts’ case if she had actually provided detailed evidence to support her scared suburbanite’s view of the terrible city. Another thing that would have helped her is if she had bothered to investigate the circumstances surrounding Johnson’s request. Reading today’s Daily News I discovered this:
Johnson, who is coming off back surgery, did not request a trade, but the Yankees began discussions with other clubs after GM Brian Cashman called Johnson to offer condolences after Johnson’s older brother died recently. During the call, Johnson told the GM it was important to be close to his family.
This is the first time I’ve read anything about Johnson’s loss. I’ve read plenty of insinuations by Roberts and posters in the blogosphere (none of them here) that the Big Unit asked out because he couldn’t hack it. I guess I understand the reasoning that underlies such an assumption, but to me, it’s one of the things I most dislike about sports fandom. And I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it in the past. That is, I’m sure I have called into question a player’s fortitude or, more to the point, his manliness when I have been disappointed by his performance. In this case, with these details out, it would seem the height of cynicism to continue insisting that Johnson asked about a possible trade because he can’t handle the pressure of NYC. Perhaps I’m especially sensitive about this subject because of recent events in my life, but I feel Johnson is doing the "manly" thing in seeing if he can be near his family during this difficult time.