Yadier Molina: What Was the All-Star Cardinal's Problem Last Week in Milwaukee?

Lake CruiseAnalyst IAugust 8, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 29:  Catcher Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the dugout during the Cardinals game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 29, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

What was Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina bugging off of last Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee? Whatever it was, he needs to stop bugging.

I saw his eyes bug wide open, his veins nearly pop out of his head and spitballs fly from his mouth. I’m not saying he intentionally let the saliva spew forth, but I’m not MLB’s long hand of the law.

Molina was slapped with a five-game suspension for his foolhardy tantrum over a called strike three. Whatever happened to the baseball maxim, “With two strikes, swing at any pitch close?” I guess that philosophy has flown out of the window. I guess I’m old school, but Molina should have been swinging instead of flinging spit.

Former pitcher Gaylord Perry was the last of many MLB hurlers known for throwing spitballs. Molina shouldn’t want to carry this dubious distinction any further; he should never again spit his argument about balls and strikes.

The Cardinals will need the youngest of the flying Molina brothers for the rest of this season and this week in particular.

The suddenly big, bad and bold Milwaukee Brewers will be in the friendly confines of Busch Stadium to take on the Redbirds in what could be an epic series for first place in the NL Central. I hope the beanball epidemic that plagued their last series in Milwaukee doesn’t carry over.

Ron Roenicke and Tony La Russa appeared to be over it and on relatively good terms in the series finale. It was a game that featured three home runs by third baseman Casey McGehee—no relation to Willie McGee, the former Cardinals great center fielder.

Molina could be on his way to being the greatest defensive catcher the Cards have ever had. Ted “Simba” Simmons and Joe Torre certainly are the top two candidates for the best offensive catcher.

Molina normally catches every errant pitch, plus he peels runners off the basepaths like fresh bananas. But he went bananas in the home plate umpire’s face last Wisconsin week.

It could’ve been that Molina was chased from the game because of tensions that had built over the course of the game. Maybe Yadier and the umpire were exchanging pleasantries all night. They both wore spit masks, and Molina isn’t known to show umpires up by turning around to question balls and strikes. So if there was jawing going on with those two, then it was transparent.

Molina was ejected, and he had to sleep on it in the team’s hotel. Although the Redbirds won the game, it probably felt like Heartbreak Hotel to him.

In the next game, Molina looked remorseful after he threw a dart into the dirt on its way to center field on a stolen base attempt. During the same blowout loss last Wednesday afternoon, he also completely missed a perfectly thrown pitch that went to the backstop.

When was the last time he did that? I can’t call it. He’s usually one of the best throwing catchers in the majors.

When was the last time the Brewers tried to pilfer a base against him before then? I’m not sure, but speedster Nyjer “T. Plush” Morgan was seemingly scared straight to even attempt to steal during a crucial point in the epic Tuesday night game.

It was a one-on-one matchup in a team sport I eagerly wanted to see.

The Brewers are 6-3 against the Cardinals in head-to-head games this season. That means little to me, though. The Cardinals smashed the Cincinnati Reds in head-to-head matchups before the epic collapse last season. The Reds ended up winning the division.

While Molina, Cincinnati’s favorite catcher, sat due to suspension, the Cardinals were busy crushing the Marlins in Florida. Maybe Molina will feel rejuvenated and push his batting average closer to .300. The suspension could’ve been a blessing in disguise.

It wasn’t good publicity, though, on one front.

The night after the incident against their division rivals in Milwaukee, Molina was the No. 1 name in at least one search engine. That evening, MLB TV presented a poll asking if the Cardinals or the Yankees were the No. 1 most hated team in baseball.

The results weren’t even close. Cardinals fans will take heart in knowing that by an 89 percent to 11 percent count, respondents voted New York the No. 1 most hated.

I don’t call the Yankees “New York Jankees” without reason. That’s janky, i.e., lowdown, untrustworthy, shady. The very fact that this poll was even asked suggests to me the very depths to which the classy Cardinals have fallen in the eyes of the baseball public.

I just hope I don’t have to move the Cardinals bumper sticker off my car. All of a sudden my beloved Redbirds are mentioned in the same breath as the Steinbrenners. Yikes! 

Whatever his problem was last week in Milwaukee, Molina, La Russa and the rest of the Redbirds had better get their class acts together and fast.