(Hall Of Fame jockey Gary Stevens apologizes to Randy for excessive use of the whip)

Comparing Randy Johnson’s putrid performance last night against Oakland to his cowardly display in getting tossed in last September 16th’s game with Toronto, the New York Daily News’ John Harper writes :

On nights like this, it sometimes seems as if Joe Torre is the last person in New York who looks at Randy Johnson and still sees The Big Unit.

How else do you explain Torre leaving Johnson in the game as he was imploding in the fourth inning against the A’s? It was so bad for Johnson that you thought Torre might just be trying to spare him the embarrassment of a vicious booing if he yanked him.

It turned out the manager was just continuing to hope against hope that the Big Unit would suddenly appear, as if by magic.

“Even though he’s getting beat up,” Torre said afterward, “he’s still who he is. There’s still plenty in there. Unless he just flat-out can’t do it, I’ve gotta give him every opportunity.”

More and more it looks like wishful thinking. For while Johnson finally did get out of the fourth inning, this rain-delayed, 6-5 loss to the A’s had the look and feel of a new low for the Disappearing Unit.

After all, the A’s just might be the worst offensive team in the American League, and last night they were missing two of their best hitters in Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby.

It was bad enough when Johnson was getting knocked around by the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Mets. The thing is, by now we know this is not the Big Unit of old, and as he is three months shy of his 43rd birthday, there may not be much he can do about it.

Still, this was different. He had no business getting pounded for three home runs, one of them by Antonio Perez, a substitute infielder hitting .029 for the season at the time. He had no excuse for issuing five walks.

The AP’s Doug Tucker reports that Bob Fescoe of WHB (above) and Rhonda Moss of KCSP have had their press credentials revoked by the Kansas City Royals, apparently for having the gall to pepper K.C. owner David Glass with something other than softball questions during the press conference to announce Dayton Moore’s hiring.

At the news conference Thursday, the two grilled owner David Glass on the way he handled the dismissal of former general manager Allard Baird.

Glass appeared to become irritated and told Moss at one point that her assessment of the situation was “completely wrong.”

Moss has covered the Royals for KCSP for almost three years. Also during the news conference, she appeared to rankle Dan Glass, the team president and owner’s son, when she asked him what his role was in running the baseball operations.