While my baseball fandom was thrown in the trash by the Ricketts family, that doesn’t mean the fires of distaste and hatred burn any less. Our passions and love can ebb and flow, but the force of our animus for former rivals always remains strong. Maybe you’re a Red Sox fan out there that can never get past the Mookie Betts trade (and nor should you). But that doesn’t mean you won’t be saying, “Yankees Suck!” on your deathbed.
Yadier Molina’s career came to an end last night, thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies. Thank fucking god.
We have had to spend nearly the last two decades hearing about the “magic” of Yadi, as if he was some wizard not just bestowed upon St. Louis, but given to them so that they may bestow his glow upon the rest of us. He was portrayed as some scion of the special powers that only St. Louis can produce, as if St. Louis was capable of producing anything other than swamp ass and pizza that looks and tastes like it had been passed through a carburetor. Cardinals fans told us that it wasn’t just that Yadi was an all-time great catcher, but that he could only have been developed by and played for the Cardinals. Only they were worthy of such inexplicable magic.
Was Molina a pretty good player 10 years ago? Of course. But it was also 10 years ago. Molina has been a cypher at the plate for basically seven seasons now. While Cardinals Nation and all the writers around the country they’ve brainwashed will wax poetic for years about how symbolic it was that Molina hit a pop-tart of an opposite field single in his last AB, and how representative it was of the hitter he’d been, it was far more representative when he ended Game 1 and whatever rally the Cards might have produced to counter their absolute implosion with a completely non-competitive at-bat. It’s what he’s specialized in for a long time.
It goes beyond the numbers, they’ll say. You can’t understand Molina merely by a statsheet, they’ll wail. He set the Cardinal Way, they’ll claim. Yadi was such a leader that he on more than one occasion bitched about balls and strikes while play was going on. He’s such a leader he ditched his team this season to go watch a basketball team he owns play, which he also got thrown out of as a spectator. Wonder what Cardinals fans would say about players on other teams who just missed games to do something personal. Bet I can guess!
Of course, then Cardinals fans will turn right around and tell you about all the numbers that say Molina should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And because most voters fall for Cardinals horseshit, he most likely will. Do you know who has the same amount of fWAR as Molina in 500+ less games? Russell Martin. Do you think Russell Martin is a Hall player? Do you know who was worth just one less fWAR in a tick under 500 less games? Brian McCann. Though McCann would have fit in perfectly with the up-their-own-ass lifestyle of St. Louis with his self-appointed baseball police act. Joe Mauer was worth two less fWAR in 400 less games.
Buster Posey topped Molina pretty much in every fashion, and he did it in nearly 1,000 fewer games. That’s what a Hall of Famer looks like.
Of course, the problem is that the Cardinals have essentially been punting at the catcher position for five to seven years, and now they can actually sign a catcher who can hit. And it’ll likely be Willson Contreras, which will plunge my heart into my ankles for good. Sure, Contreras isn’t the framer that Molina is, but that also won’t matter in two years when we have an automatic strike zone anyway. Maybe we had it really good when the Cards had a non-entity with the bat behind the plate.
Was I the guy that said there’s always a player that connects with fans even though he’s not a star? That represents something about them when it came to the A’s and Stephen Vogt? You bet I did. But A’s fans are cool, and Cardinals fans are demon spawn. And A’s fans don’t quickly and assuredly describe themselves as the bellwether for all of baseball. A lot of it rang of the same whiff of how Derek Jeter came to mean something he totally wasn’t simply because he was a Yankee, but at least Jeter could claim to not be an active drain on his team until the very end. Not that he would. I’m sure Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, who dragged an otherwise dead-ass team to a division championship in a division where literally no one else was trying, are more than happy to let all the adulation go to a guy who couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield more than once a week.
I’m sure Yadi will hang around every year now, getting a standing ovation from those weirdos every time he’s shown on the jumbotron during a game (or whatever funeral they have to have again). We’ll never be truly rid of him.
But this will do for now. Get up outta here, Yadi.