April 30, 2005

My Impressions

Casey is widely renowned as a nice guy, arguably the nicest guy in all of baseball, because he is accessible and amicable and chats with every person within a 50-foot radius. But that doesn’t make a person nice; it makes him friendly. You could say the same things about a politician or a used-car salesman. What tells you he’s really and genuinely nice is the community involvement, the dedication to faith, and the constant awed look that people sport when talking about how they can’t believe that a person can really be that nice.

Casey has become synonymous with Cincinnati and the Reds and he is featured prominently on team collateral. The Reds’ PR people are far from the most skilled practitioners of their craft, but even they realize that Casey is and should be the bright, smiling face of the Reds. Especially since, in addition to being a consistent player, an outgoing, endearing character, and a pillar of activism in his community, Casey is a real cutie-pie.

So, are you ready to slip into a diabetic coma from the sugary sweetness of it all? Hang in there; there is one negative: any time a person possesses such a deep, heart-felt compassion for humankind, he also opens himself up to all the other emotions. You don’t hear people talk about it much, but Casey is prone to frustration and can display an impressive temper. He’s been known to jump into brawls, beat up on trash cans, and I think I even recall seeing a photo of him breaking a bat over his knee (ouch!).

Certainly a little fire in one’s belly is a good thing, and if Casey could transform his aggressions into stunning performances instead of demolished garbage receptacles, this paragraph would soon become a strength instead of a weakness.

However, you really can’t blame the guy for having some rage issues. I mean, should anyone really have to endure that many ‘Casey at the Bat’ references? You see them every darn place you look: magazine headlines, newspaper leads, I even heard a guy in the crowd at spring training saying it aloud. I imagine any time Casey strikes out to end a game where they’re down by two with two on, he just about wants to bash in his own skull. Or the skull of the guy whispering in a haunting tone: “mighty Casey…has struck out.”

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