If you’ve read my column for any length of time, you know I am a big fan of Bull Durham. I have a shirt with a bunch of the best quotes from the movie. It doesn’t include this exchange:
Nuke: How come you don’t like me?
Crash: Because you don’t respect yourself, which is your problem. But you don’t respect the game, and that’s my problem. You got a gift.
Nor does it include this one:
Annie: The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.
There is a point to this. I feel like both of the above quotes are applicable to my boy, Kyle Busch.
In the first quote, he is Nuke LaLoosh.
Busch is, without any doubt, a transcendent racing talent. He can do amazing things behind the wheel. He proved that once again last weekend by sweeping the Truck, Xfinity and Cup races at Bristol for the second time. He is the only person to do it and now has 20 wins across the three series at the tough half mile in his career. He has a staggering 180 wins in the three series since 2003 (40 in Cup, 91 in Xfinity and 49 in Trucks).
He has championships in the Cup and Xfinity series. In Cup, he has won one in every 11 starts. It’s about one in every 3.5 starts in Xfinity and better than one in every three in trucks. That’s pretty boss and the way he won the truck race last week was remarkable. He got hit with a late pit-road speeding penalty and drove his way through the field in a few laps to take the lead and walk away from the field. I’m not discounting the fact that he has great equipment, but it’s still quite a feat.
But for all that, I feel as though he isn’t quite getting his money’s worth for the talent.
Look, I get it. After nearly 15 years of Kyle Busch doing his best efforts to be Kyle Busch, we are all used to it. Every sport needs the guy who everyone hates – or most people hate; the heel. Busch, to his credit, plays to the role. But his attitude and behavior holds him back. He rants and raves at his crew over small things. I understand the passion and drive and displeasure when things go wrong. But it happens and you don’t have to berate everyone to all hell about it. Not exactly the best way to get the most out of the people you depend on.
And how can we forget his mic drop at Charlotte? Salty much, Kyle?
My point is this: Kyle has the talent to have more than the one Cup championship. Like I said, he wins at an amazing clip. In all his efforts to be, well, Kyle Busch, I think he loses a bit of his edge and focus. He’s like the guy on the highway who gets so frustrated with the slow driver in the left lane he makes dumb mistakes and ends up airborne into a stand of pine trees.
I hate to be so negative vis-à-vis Kyle. I really do. I won’t say I want to like him; I just want to be more neutral about Kyle. I don’t want to own a t-shirt that reads: I hate: cold women, warm beer and Kyle Busch. I know not everyone will like everyone. There are plenty of people who don’t like me. Like me, Kyle doesn’t care.
But if Kyle would try to find a bit more respect for the game, maybe I would have a bit more respect for him, and he would be able to capitalize on his gift more – with championships.
Andy cagle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.