Burns: Greatness in that grumpiness

Jun 10, 2009, 3:21 AM | Updated: Jan 14, 2011, 4:23 pm

When I was in my 20s my father gave me a book called “What Would Machiavelli Do?”

In his estimation I was too nice and would never get anywhere worth getting to in this world with such a pleasant demeanor. The book encouraged me – I guess – to get what I want by being a jerk.

I never read it.

Something tells me Randy Johnson didn’t either, though for entirely different reasons. Based on what everybody says about him, it sounds like he’s got the jerk market cornered. One of our hosts called him a “miserable human being” the other day.

Why does everyone get so hung up on the “likeability” factor of Randy Johnson? Think about it. If it were Luis Gonzalez coming back to Chase Field to be honored for a career achievement the way Johnson is on Wednesday, fans would throw rose petals at his feet.

But Johnson? Nope. Not likeable enough, even though he had ten times the career Gonzo did (and I mean that with all due respect to Gonzalez).

It’s not enough that he won four Cy Young’s. Threw a perfect game. Struck out 20 in a game. Won a World Series Co-MVP. Dominated baseball like no other during his time here.

But because he is neither warm nor fuzzy he is held at arm’s length. I don’t get it. He won. He was the best. Every start he made held the potential for greatness.

What else do you want? A hug?

The plumber. The barista. The FedEx guy. I’m not looking to like them. I just want them to do a good job. Same of major league baseball players. I’m not looking for a friend. I got plenty of those. I want you to be excellent.

And pardon the Keanu Reeves moment, but Johnson was most excellent.

What would Machiavelli do? Well I know what he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t think any less of the greatest athlete the state of Arizona has ever known just because he had the personality of a rusty chainsaw.

There is greatness in that grumpiness.

Penguin Air

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Burns: Greatness in that grumpiness