Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Johnny Be Good: Why Cueto Can Be Fixed and Nirvana is a Bad Band

Danville, Kentucky -- It was 1991. The pre-NAFTA days of the Clinton administration. When life was simpler and the union was stronger. After a non-descript day at the GM plant, I drove home in my pick-up truck, listening to the radio and contemplating the banality of working-class life. I wasn't prepared for what happened next. A horrible song with a flannel-wearing West Coast elitist singer whining on about how unfair life is came droning out of my barely functional radio, interrupting an otherwise pleasant commute. Smells Like Teen Spirit was ubiquitous on the radio that year, as was I Hate Myself and Want to Die several years later in 1993. Forgive me, Mr. Cobain, but I never did sympathize with you and your liberal grunge-buddies. I worked from 9 to 5 in a factory, toiling in obscurity just to pay off my gambling debt and buy a few appetizers now and then. You were a millionaire and could afford the type of substances needed to self-medicate one's self that a Danville man could only dream of. I had only a bottle of Kentucky Deluxe and divorce paperwork to look forward to when I got home from my monotonous grind on the assembly line, but I still woke up every morning trying to make each day better than the last, and I didn't complain about it either. Why so angry, Kurt? why so sad?

Why so angry? Why so sad? Those were the questions I found myself asking as I watched a visibly frustrated Johnny Cueto, staring upward at the night sky in confusion, exit the field of play following another disappointing outing versus the Baltimore Orioles. Johnny, you are an ace. This offseason, you're going to get a paycheck that makes Clinton's speaking fees look like GM plant money. You're on a first place team, having escaped the miserable situation of my hometown Reds. As James Shields would say: if you don't like it, pitch better. 

Knowing Johnny, he will pitch better -- thanks to his own determination and the camaraderie of the Kansas City clubhouse. He will get an extra psychological boost from the knowledge that Dusty Baker, perhaps the wisest Reds manager of my lifetime, will cover the playoffs for TBS. Cueto is no Cobain; he will not let self-pity and defeatism define him. Folks like me and Johnny aren't motivated by money; we want to win, and we want the endless appetizers and women that accompany fame and fortune. That, my friends, smells like team spirit.