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Stay classy, Jeff Pearlman

Jan 6, 2010, 8:55 AM EST

Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Pearlman — writing on his personal blog — reflects on the retirement of Randy Johnson and, as is typical for him, he totally takes the high road:

I have nothing but negative thoughts for Randy Johnson, a brilliant
pitcher but a pathetic human being. I covered baseball for a good chunk
of time. I had direct access to such unpleasant men as Will Clark, John
Rocker, Barry Bonds, Arthur Rhodes. But nobody–and I mean absolutely
nobody–possessed the pure dismissive cruelty of Randy Johnson.

I’ve heard it a million times–no one cares how athletes treat the
media. Well, I care. And Johnson was a punk. He bullied reporters, he
snarled at reporters, he occasionally threatened reporters. He is one
of the far-too-many professional athletes who believes the ability to
throw a round piece of animal skin 100 mph grants you the right to
treat other human beings as dog excrement. Just ask anyone who covered
Johnson during his days in Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, New
York and, lastly, San Francisco. He was a first-class pitcher and a
first-class creep.

It’s probably worth noting that Pearlman is famous for taking the bad things said about him on blogs quite personally.  Just last week Pearlman wrote a post — starting with a quote from a comment on this very blog — in which he talked about what it feels like when someone criticizes him:

So, does hate mail hurt? In a word: Yes. Not that I cry over it. I don’t. But it never feels good hearing you’re a dolt, a moron, an anus . . . Fire away. Call me every nasty word in the book. But whether you’re yelling at writers or athletes or garbage men or actors, it never feels good.

Jeff, like Paul McCartney once sang: the love you take is equal to the love you make.  You’ve flung around personal crap like the above-quote about Randy Johnson for years. Is it any surprise when people do the same to you?  And even if it isn’t, is anyone’s life enhanced by the exercise?

There’s nothing wrong with being critical. Heck, in my view, sports writers should be more critical than they currently are, not less.  But there’s a difference between being critical and getting personal, and getting personal to the extent Pearlman does, especially at a time — an athlete’s retirement — when perhaps a bit of restraint along those lines might be in order is a totally bush league move.

  1. Evan - Jan 6, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Craig,
    You wrote this: “Evan — that’s fine, but what does Pearlman offer us in the way of evidence regarding RJ’s character and fitness for the Hall of Fame? Nothing. Not one anecdote. Not one piece of evidence that might persuade anyone to question RJ the man. ” – Craig Calcaterra
    Craig, the guy is writing on his personal blog not an Op-Ed NYT article. Pearlman’s describes Johnson as a “brilliant” and “first-class” pitcher with a big “BUT” attached. Reading between the lines, he’s basically saying that he has the HOF career minus the HOF character. Now if we were talking about guys with good reputations like Derek Jeter or Albert Pujols, then I would probably agree with you and ask for evidence.
    However, Pearlman doesn’t appear to be in the minority. Most of the articles I’ve read about Johnson describe him AT BEST as not well liked but also not well understood. Descriptions range from being crude, dismissive, cold, angry, indifferent and mean.
    Speaking of evidence, do you have any that might DISPROVE what Pearlman is saying?

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 6, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Evan: you’re the one who said that maybe Pearlman’s stuff can be taken as something more than a personal rant (i.e. evidence against his Hall of Fame character case). If that’s the case, I would hope that he’d offer some sort of specific piece of evidence, personal blog or not.
    And are you seriously suggesting that it’s my burden to prove that a guy isn’t a “punk” and a “pathetic human being?” We START with that assumption? Is that the world you live in on a day to day basis?
    But that aside, I’m not saying that Pearlman is even necessarily wrong that RJ is a jerk. Maybe he is. But (a) Pearlman says nothing to convince me of it; and (b) I still don’t understand why anyone is compelled to spew such personal bile about another human being regardless.

  3. guy newell - Jan 6, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Perlman is a dirt-bag wanna-be. He’s not talented enought for anyone to pay attention to him, so he’s jelous of those dirt-bags who are.

  4. Tim - Jan 6, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Moses Green acts as if Jeff is his dad already. Come off it dude the guy stinks as a writer!

  5. Evan - Jan 6, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Craig,
    My point is that personal blogs don’t NEED citations. It doesn’t really matter if he’s ranting or being serious (though I think its a little of both).
    Because he has direct access to athletes (as he mentions), he knows them better than the other 99.9% of society. Me and the rest of the people in this forum “know” athletes through edited television and reading. I think that gives him a little more “leeway” than most people when it comes to writing opinions about them. Don’t you?
    Also, he gives examples of a bunch of other (bad) players that he has known showing that, at the very least, he has a basis for a comparison. On top of that, he mentions that Johnson “bullied” and “threatened” reporters. I remember when Johnson first came to the Yankees, he had a run in with a reporter. That sounds like a vague citation to me.
    Finally, he asks us to ask any reporters that covered Johnson as if to back up his story. That’s why I asked you to disprove him. Craig, have you met Randy? Have you covered him? What do you think about him?
    I’m not a big fan of attacking people on a personal level, but to each his own. I give him credit for not hiding behind an anynonmous avatar. In a way, he’s giving other “relevant” writers a chance to stick up for Johnson. Of course, I don’t see people lining up…

  6. TigerS Boy ToY - Jan 6, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    If Pearlman paid his taxes and trimmed his nose hairs I have no problem with his timing of his comment, is there a waiting period if he wanted to say what a lovable, compassionate person Randy is, no. So you mean to tell me Randy never hugged Derek Jeter, I find this hard to believe, especially after a loss to Boston sometimes all you want is someone to hold you and comfort you, at least until you fall asleep.Oh Pearlman should also trim the hair on his ear.
    Buh Bye

  7. TigerS Boy ToY - Jan 6, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    If Pearlman paid his taxes and trimmed his nose hairs I have no problem with his timing of his comment, is there a waiting period if he wanted to say what a lovable, compassionate person Randy is, no. So you mean to tell me Randy never hugged Derek Jeter, I find this hard to believe, especially after a loss to Boston sometimes all you want is someone to hold you and comfort you, at least until you fall asleep.Oh, Pearlman should also trim the hair on his ear.
    Buh Bye

  8. willmose - Jan 6, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Y’all missed the point, Pearlman is entitled because his poop doesn’t stink! The nerve of Randy Johnson to think that his poop doesn’t stink either.

  9. Ibis - Jan 6, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    Randy wasn’t nice to sportswriters? Are they known to be a friendly group who seek positive relationships with athletes? Are athletes now judged by their relationships with writers? Nonsense.
    Regarding the Love Child and child support, Johnson demanded proof of paternity, and once he had it, paid $5,000 a month till the kid turned 18.

  10. Jeff Pearlman - Jan 6, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    I come here regularly, and was shocked to see all these comments about my Johnson post. I just blogged about this a few minutes ago … I’m really not a negative person in day-to-day life, but I sort of see the blog as a chance to vent and scream and go off on things that bother me. Maybe I do that too much, especially considering I have waaaaay more readers than I ever anticipated when I started the site (to be honest, jeffpearlman.com began as a place to promote books and blog every now and then). I certainly don’t aspire to be known as a mean guy or a jerk or whatever. But, just being honest, I found Johnson to be a remarkably nasty person throughout his career—to autograph seekers (who he pretty much ignored), to kids (ditto), to the media; even to teammates (ask fellow Yankees about him). Does that makes him evil? Of course not. But it was my observation, and I don’t feel the need to praise a man just because he retied (That said, I guess I didn’t have to kick him, either).
    Anyhow, just wanted to share. No hard feelings. Feel free to e-mail me at anngold22@gmail.com.
    Jeff

  11. Luke G - Jan 6, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    Pearlman is in the permanent doghouse with some people because he said mean things about Barry Bonds. It’s that simple.

  12. Luke G - Jan 6, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Pearlman is in the permanent doghouse with some people because he said mean things about Barry Bonds. It’s that simple.

  13. edd - Jan 8, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Ummm… everyone is bringing that up. That’s the number one reason people give as to why he didn’t make the HOF this year.

  14. Henry Smithett - Jan 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    A good background check service is almost impossible to find.

  15. JJ - Jan 12, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    It is true, and it’s even worse than it sounds. His daughter has reached out to him several times but he won’t meet or speak with her. And I do believe when she asked for a small stipend for education or car, he hired attorneys to go after her to get money back that he “overpaid”.
    The guy is a world-class scumbag. These people aren’t heroes, Randy Johnson should be viewed like any other dirtbag that isn’t there for his children. I could care less about Pearman’s feelings or how athletes treat the media, but his point about Johnson is right on.

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  17. rick - Jan 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    I find this to be kind of funny as the only thing of Pearlman’s I have ever read is his book about the 1986 Mets, The Bad Guys Won. The funny part is that, in that book, Pearlman idealizes the Mets for behaving just as boorishly as he claims Randy Johnson has done all his career. In praising the 1986 Mets, a team he admittedly idolized as a teen, Pearlman regales the reader with tale after tale of disgusting and rude behavior on the part of the members of the Mets. But to Pearlman, this behavior is all just old-school antics that were colorful and part of the Mets charm. But I imagine the people who had to clean up the messes, both literal and figurative, the Mets made did not see it that way. Much like Pearlman doesn’t see Johnson as some colorful curmudgeon straight out of the dead ball era of baseball, but rather as a d-bag. I guess it is all perspective.

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