Many years ago, at a night club somewhere in the city where Major League Baseball was having its all-star game, I saw then-Blue Jays manager Jimy Williams dancing up a storm.
He was quite the sight on the floor and his moves contrasted his public, rather boring image so much that I decided to write briefly about it in my Globe and Mail column.
It was, I believed, a harmless little note and I really never thought about it again.
Months later, I found out that Williams told another reporter that I was "a terrible human being." I asked a friend of his why he would make such a scathing remark about me.
"Maybe," the friend said, "it had something to do with the day you wrote about him dancing at that club. I don't think his wife appreciated that he was dancing with another woman, if you know what I mean. I think that caused him some problems."
It hit me like a ton of bricks. It never donned on me that I could have created that sort of stress for Williams when I wrote what I thought was a harmless little note.
I never really liked the guy, truthfully. And I thought he was a poor manager in Toronto, and I wrote that.
When I discovered that I caused him personal grief by writing about his dancing, however, I was saddened. I was upset with myself.
So I made a decision at that time. I decided that, unless the police or hospitals were involved, I would not write about what sports figures did in their own personal lives, after hours.
I was thinking about all that this week because of the way the New York Post decided to follow the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez during his off hours the other night in Toronto, where he was spotted with a busty blonde who wasn't his wife.
Some of you may find this surprising coming from me, but I considered this lousy and unethical reporting.
After all, baseball reporters could, if they wished, file stories similar to the Post's on the large majority of the players they cover. So could basketball reporters. And football reporters. And, yes, hockey reporters.
I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I've seen hundreds of players and coaches in bars and in hotel elevators—or even in hotel rooms — with women who weren't their wives.
It doesn't happen only occasionally, folks. It happens ALL THE TIME.
Yep, they cheat on their wives. It's second nature to most of these guys.
If you want to be a mean-spirited journalist, you can report it without much work, really. If you're travelling with a team, you see these girlfriends and groupies with players and coaches as often as you see doors and windows. They're fixtures.
Heck, the guys with squeaky-clean public images even screw around on their wives. There were so many with the Blue Jays that the pain in my wrists would flare up if I typed the names of every one of them.
Let's just say Hall of Famer Paul Molitor had extra-marital affairs. I mention him because, sadly, his fling with a woman in Toronto was discovered and wound up seriously affecting the lives of a couple of people I know very well and cared for very much.
Kelly Gruber was caught, too.
The ex-wife of the Jays' former third baseman once called me, in fact, to ask if I knew what he was doing with women. I said I didn't, but she knew I did, and she knew all about Gruber's activities herself, anyway. It all came out in their divorce case.
Lynn Gruber told me she'd get physically sick when, while married to Kelly, women would approach her at Toronto games and tell her how they wanted their sons to grow up and be just like him.
Listen, I could go on and on about these things, but I won't. I choose not to because I consider it taboo. I have shared my thoughts on this subject with my journalism students, as well, and I hope they'll go along with my policy during their careers.
Maybe I'm just a silly old-fashioned journalist, but I won't change my style now.
And I guess that'll mean I'll never get a job at the New York Post.