Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Apparently, all the penis references you can make about Randy Johnson's name and nickname are true.

The Big Unit is suing the mother of his 16-year-old daughter for $71,000 in day-care payments and $26,000 in interest because the girl was too old to be in day care, according to legal papers. Johnson and the mother, Laurel Roszell, were in a relationship when she became pregnant, but the two split up.

Now, before everyone starts jumping to unwarranted conclusions, here are a few facts to consider:

* At the time of the daughter's birth, Johnson was earning $70,000 a season pitching for the Montreal Expos.
* Roszell was employed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, although in what position is not known.
* Johnson has been paying $5,000 per month in child support since the girl was six, along with $750 per month in day-care expenses.

Summing these parts up, I think it's fair to say Roszell was not out on the prowl looking to land a meal ticket. There was a relationship, it ended, she had Johnson's daughter and he paid child support, or at least started paying child support in 1997 or so.

Not long ago, Roszell asked Johnson to buy a truck and a computer for the daughter and pony up some cash for her studies at a community college. Johnson declined, and then filed the lawsuit claiming he was due back his payments for child care plus the interest.

I'm sure this looks terrible, especially when you consider that Johnson will pull in $17M in salary alone this season. However, I believe any father has the right to say no to such a request, no matter how rich he is. $5,000 a month for child support is some pretty big cake, certainly enough for Roszell to make the daughter comfortable.

I also don't believe child support should be on a sliding scale. The father (or mother -- I'm just going to say father because it's less confusing here) should be willing to share with the child, but if he isn't, that's not a matter for the courts so long as he's living up to the original agreement.

However, Johnson filed the lawsuit shortly after the request for the extras was made. He's asking for the interest back on the payments. That's a Big Unit move. I can't believe Johnson started making payments when the girl was six and this never crossed his mind before? Seems like a retroactive vindictive shot at the family for asking for the extra stuff.

Here's the kicker, though -- Johnson has seen his daughter once in 16 years. She said he didn't answer letters, but instead just send signed baseball cards. Maybe his people just thought it was fan mail, but it's no excuse. I don't care how screwed up your relationship is with the mother -- you do right by the child.

Of course, this will degenerate into a battle over women's rights and a man's responsibility to a child in which he had no interest. Perhaps it should.

But it should also make every fan of the Big Unit wonder whether this man should be treated as a hero. In at least one young girl's heart, Johnson's already struck out.

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