Here's Johnny - Thank you, Mr. Prather
Paul Prather is the pastor of Bethesda Church in Mount Sterling. I have not been to his church, but I have read his work in the Lexington Herald-Leader, where he writes a weekly column about faith. I am a fan of what he says and how he says it - particularly his most recent column, the title of which was "Quit being angry; question yourself more." Mr. Prather's piece was written as he watched his 60th birthday approach. "I'm old and I know a secret: Life is too fleeting to waste it on rage. Lighten up. Smile. Forgive. Move on. There's not much that's worth gnashing your teeth over," Prather wrote. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Dear Readers know I often use Here's Johnny as a public teeth-gnashing exercise. They've read my repeated rants about people who text and email while driving and people don't put their shopping carts back in the corral and people who don't use their turn signals in traffic. Worthy targets, all, because they're not just annoying, but sometimes downright dangerous to others and themselves. However, I hope it's clear that my thoughts on these and other annoyances are intended to amuse, not merely arouse. I am several years behind Mr. Prather, age-wise, and likely several decades behind, wisdom-wise, yet I feel I have learned some of the same lessons. Perhaps the most important is this: When I get more than a wee bit perturbed at other folks, it almost always means I am unhappy about something in my own life. People who are unhappy with themselves too often forget (or are too afraid) to look in the mirror and ask, "How can I make this situation better?" The old saying, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that counts" has been uttered in different ways for centuries, but, God bless us, some of us are slow learners. I'll try to remember that the next time someone cuts me off in traffic. Thank you, Joey V All the experts say this will be a rebuilding year for the Cincinnati Reds. I'm not an expert, but I'll take their word for it. They traded their three best pitchers and the rookies who took the places of Chapman, Cueto and Leake weren't ready for the big leagues. Still, as this is written, the Reds are undefeated, having come back from a 2-1 deficit in the 8th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in the Reds' traditional home opener. (The oldest team in professional baseball used to get opening day all to themselves, but ESPN and Major League Baseball saw greener pastures elsewhere.) Joey Votto had already struck out three times when he came to the plate with the bases loaded. The fourth time was a charm, as Votto's two-run single put the Reds ahead to stay. Votto is one of the few high-dollar men left on the Reds. His 10-year, $225 million deal runs through 2023, and if any athlete is worth that sort of money - hey, capitalism has its ups and downs - one could argue that person is Votto. Last year, his on-base percentage was .459. That's Ted Williams territory. In other words, 46 percent of the time Votto came to the plate in 158 games, he either hit safely or drew one of his 143 walks. His career numbers are nearly as impressive: .311 batting average, .423 on-base percentage, 192 home runs and 637 runs batted in (after Monday night's game). He's also a fine first baseman and generally considered an all-around good egg. Votto may feel lonely this year, what with the Reds stocked with rookie pitchers and likely to deal other high-priced veterans Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. He may end his career like Williams - a shining symbol of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. I hope not. I hope the Reds return to the World Series (remember the 1990 sweep against the steroid-laced A's?) before Votto calls it quits. Until then, there's a good reason to drive an hour-and-a-half or so to Cincinnati. His name is Joey Votto. He plays first base, and when he's not playing defense there, he gets there a lot on his own.