Sit back and enjoy this brief glimpse into the world of sportswriting …
Last Thursday, I worked the Los Angeles Dodgers’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Associated Press. Randy Johnson, Arizona’s four-time Cy Young Award winner, was on the mound for the first time in 18 days after he was sidelined by back trouble. (Actually, the ailment first listed was the dreaded “glute tightness.”)
It was clear even to a simple sportswriter that Johnson wasn’t right. Most of his pitches were thigh-high or higher (this from a pitcher who has made a living off a hard slider that breaks down near the ankles), his velocity was down, he generally looked uncomfortable and, most telling of all, he limped off the field after his second and third innings of work.
If nothing else, the limping should have been a guaranteed, sure-thing, tell-tale sign. Yet at the end of the game, both Arizona manager Bob Melvin and Johnson repeated over and over and over again that physically the 6-foot-10 left-hander was fine. It wasn’t his back, Johnson said. It was a “lack of execution” of his pitches, Johnson said, and he was looking forward to his start today in St. Louis.
Maybe it was his back after all. Johnson was scratched from his start tonight. Why? Not a lack of execution. Back pain. Just as predicted.