Yadier Molina has been the heart and soul of the St. Louis Cardinals for the last decade and a half. He’s shed blood, sweat, tears, and nearly a testicle in support of the team and city. So you can understand why he might be ready to scrap at the even the slightest notion of disrespect, even if it comes in the form of an innocent joke by a man for whom “fiddlesticks” represents strong language.
And while some might call him a red-ass or a “sensitive pee baby,” Cards manager Mike Shildt likes to use a slightly more venerable moniker.
“He’s the Yadfather,” Shildt told Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “When he speaks, everybody is going to listen.”
The words of note over the last few days have largely been directed at Bryant’s description of St. Louis as “boring,” which is objectively correct. Now, I want to qualify that by saying I personally have enjoyed the time I’ve spent in the city. The Lou has a free zoo and the City Museum is absolutely incredible. My kids still rave about the calzones at Sauce on the Side, even after my daughter nearly refused to eat there because she’d never had a calzone before.
I bumped a lot of Nelly’s Country Grammar album when I was in college and used to love Tequiza — an AB product — way before the whole lime-flavored beer craze hit the mainstream. But when you add it all up and compare St. Louis to other cities, it’s very easy to see how someone could call it boring.
Yes, even someone who’s married to his high school sweetheart and who might drink something as strong as Diet Coke if he’s feeling saucy. Bryant has become a leader, though, and part of that means having your words amplified and taken out of context. It means being at the center of controversy, even when that controversy is more heavily scripted than an episode of Maury Povich.
And when it came to the birth of a new chapter in the Cubs/Cards rivalry, you knew Yadi was going to be the father. As such, you can bet he’s going to nurture this baby over the next few months and beyond, feeding it and watching it grow even as he neglects to change his own heavily soiled diaper. He fully intends for this feud to be alive and well when the season opens.
“Oh, it will,” Molina said Monday when asked if the beef will continue. “It will carry. I can’t wait to get on the field.”
This is of course going over like gangbusters with Cardinals fans and teammates, all of whom are lapping it up like milk from a saucer. And why shouldn’t they? Just as Bryant’s comments were meant for a very biased crowd, Father Yadi is preaching to his own congregation of fervent believers.
“Anything that motivates No. 4, and gets him fired up is something that resonates with the whole group,” Matt Carpenter said of the recent sermon. “As long as I’ve known Yadier Molina, he’s about as passionate and fiery of a guy that you can ever come across, not just in baseball, but in life in general. And I can assure you that he’s not a guy who I would ever want on my bad side.”
When you get down to it, this could end up being a good thing for the Cubs and Cardinals, maybe even MLB in general. Absent much substantive news this winter, we can all warm our cockles by the flame of Yadi’s fiery, if often misguided, passion. Cardinals fans can boo Bryant for sullying St. Louis’s
good name and Cubs fans can crow about a “boring” city with a mutant bastard cheese-and-crust amalgam they call pizza.
Someone might even be smart enough to come up with shirts that say “Boring,” but with the Gateway Arch as the “N.” And those people might then have those shirts, along with every other design they’d created, removed from their site for copyright infringement (the Arch is public domain, by the way). But if they were somehow able to get said shirts back up and running, it’d be fun to see whether they’d be banned from Busch Stadium like those “Try Not to Suck” joints a while back.
As silly as it is that this verbal spat is the most exciting thing going on in the NL Central right now, it’s actually kind of cool that there’s something for folks to get salty about. Of course, that’ll all go out the window if some vigilante idiot decides to throw at someone over it. Until then, however, we’ll just say it’s a new wrinkle in the rivalry that doesn’t figure to be ironed out soon.
Maybe the Cardinals could even leverage it as a slogan: B(o)ring it! It’s cheesy as provel, I know, but it beats the hell out of pimping a feral cat for motivation.