The Unsung Hero
Nothing says autumn like a good old heated political firestorm coupled with a stretch battle for a final spot in the MLB playoffs. Right now, it’s all gettin’ really good. So, dear readers, let us not forget to let it all sink in (the arguments, the media gaffes, the low blows) and really enjoy what we have going on here.
And more importantly, let us not forget to honor our heroes.
When I think of John McCain, the first thing that comes to mind is: HERO. You can’t be a prisoner-of-war survivor and not be a hero. Having spent the first 18 years of my life in a sequestered Illinois river-town also known as the armpit of the mighty Mississippi, I like to think that I understand what it means to be imprisoned by the enemy without any of the amenities I have come to enjoy in my adulthood. Because of that, my hat will always go off to Senator McCain… for his loyalty, his passion and his love of country.
But I can’t help but think about how he came to be a POW in the first place: while flying his plane over Hanoi he was shot down by the Viet Cong. In other words, he failed his mission. Now, I’m not trying to belittle his accomplishments in uniform — not at all — but what I am trying to say is that this hero persona that the GOP is clinging to with all their might is really exposing the fact that Senator McCain has already proven his ability to ‘fail’.
It’s sort of like me saying: “Well, sir, at least I didn’t get your daughter pregnant.” And he replies: “That’s because you’ve been doing it in the ^ss.”
Okay, well, maybe it’s not quite like that but I think you understand my point.
So today I’d like us to shift focus from one hero — the one who’s heroics have been thoroughly documented and vetted and celebrated and characterized and relied upon and written about — to one who very few people recognize at all: Yadier Molina.
Quite possibly the most talented of all the Molina brother catchers, young St. Louis Cardinal Yadier gets very little credit for his mounting heroics. My man-crush for Yadi began the very first time I saw him rifle a ball to second base. Blessed with a pure cannon of an arm, I soon learned that potential base-stealers would be smart to shorten their leadoffs from first as well; because no one guns ‘em out at first better, with more accuracy or more surprise than good ‘ol Number 4.
As a matter of principle, I tend not to purchase MLB jerseys with a player’s name and number on the back for fear that his tenure may not outlast the jersey’s wearability; but when Yadi singlehandedly sent the Cardinals to the World Series in 2006 by jacking that 9th inning homer off Aaron Heilman, I couldn’t help myself. I went out and bought his jersey the next day.
Yadier became my hero.
He still is. Not only has Molina’s defense gotten consistently better and devastatingly fearsome over his four and a half years in the big leagues, but he has suddenly found a live offensive stroke to go along with it. He hits for average and almost never strikes out, making him one tough total package on both sides of the field.
And that toughness has never been more apparent than it was last night when Molina was absolutely railroaded, steamrolled and body slammed by Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly in a collision at the plate. Molina is a catcher. Getting clocked is a part of his job. But I’m pretty sure most of us average joes would’ve had a hard time getting up from that, or take getting plowed by a pitcher with such grace, let alone continue the game, taking at-bats, calling pitches. I was amazed he made it through four innings.
I’d probably still be lying on the ground right now if that were me.
Which is reason enough to prove that I, dear readers, am not a hero. Sung or unsung, left or right, red or blue, I’m just that guy you love to hate…
…because you’re always allowed to hate me; but you can’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.