Oh. Now I get it, Mike Matheny. Nicely done.
Our compliments to you for a deviously effective twist of managerial cunning.
Matheny successfully inflamed the emotions that roil inside of the proud Yadier Molina.
When Yadi gets mad at his manager, he clicks on Instagram to troll Matheny.
And an enraged Molina — his pride triggered and stimulated to the max — is no one to mess with.
It isn’t that Yadier will try to kick Matheny’s buttocks. Nope. He won’t go that far.
The catcher with the golden arm — and a disarming desire for vengeance — will make opponents’ pay instead.
Ask the Milwaukee Brewers.
Competing with the subtlety of a nuclear reactor, Molina bashed two homers and a double and piled up a career-high 10 total bases in a game to lead the charge Wednesday for a 5-4 win at Miller Park. In Tuesday’s game, Molina had a single and an RBI in a 3-2 loss. Sunday, Molina had two hits, scored a run and initiated a fourth-inning rally to tie the game during the the Cardinals’ 3-2 victory over Arizona.
The uprising occurred in the aftermath of the ruckus caused by Molina’s two notorious Instagram posts in which he (1) directly criticized Matheny; and (2) took an indirect but obvious swipe at Matheny by pining for the “old school” coach Jose Oquendo to return.
All because Matheny rested a bruised Molina in last Thursday’s game against Arizona and suggested (to the media) that fatigue was the reason.
Don’t ever say that Molina is tired.
That’s a personal insult.
Just because — postseason included — Molina has aught 14,782 innings and started 1,697 games, and played in 1,763 games, during his illustrious MLB catching career?
That’s a vacation to Molina.
At age 35 Molina is still clocking in for more innings and games started than any catcher in baseball.
And this has been going since Matheny was a teammate instead of the boss.
Why would a catcher get worn down after a career spent crouching and loaded down by equipment and getting popped in the mask with hundreds of stinging foul tips … or having his fingers slammed, pinned, pinched, and made crooked or swollen…
Or having so much knee pain, and back discomfort, and contusions from head to toe that Molina may have to undergo body replacement surgery after retirement?
Molina could have found a more diplomatic way to deal with the hostilities — you know, have a private conversation and all of that, before you give Matheny an Instagram headache … but I’m looking at the positive here.
A ticked-off Molina is a cranked-up Molina.
And that’s a good thing for the Cardinals.
* After being denied the gold glove in 2006 and 2007 because of idiotic voting by the NL managers and coaches, Molina dug in and won eight consecutive gold gloves from 2008 through 2015. You rip the man off and basically hand his gold glove to lesser catchers? Well, Molina has a case filled with eight gold gloves to show you how stupid you are.
* When fans, players and the NL manager bypassed Molina in voting for an NL All-Star roster spot in 2016, a presumably miffed Molina batted .365 with a .398 onbase percentage and .529 slugging percentage in the second half of the season. That, coming after a glaring drop in offensive production during the ’16 season’s first half. And of course: Molina was voted onto the 2017 NL All-Star squad. He swatted a homer, paused to snapped a photo of umpire Joe West and AL slugger Nelson Cruz during a live game, and was the NL’s best player in the MLB’s annual showcase.
* Last season, Molina’s lost his grip on the gold glove, which went to the Giants’ Buster Posey. After throwing out a career-low 20.2 percent of base-stealers in 2016, Molina is mining for gold again in 2017, upping his throw-out rate to 32 percent, and expertly guiding an overachieving rotation to the fourth-best ERA in the majors.
* Remember the big brawl at Cincinnati on Aug. 10 of the 2010 season? Brandon Phillips had referred to the Cardinals as a group of female canines (he used a one-syllable word) in a caustic newspaper interview the day before. In his first at-bat the next night, Phillips offered a goodwill-gesture tap to Molina’s shin guards. Molina rejected the overture, got in BP’s face, and was ready to bury the Reds’ second baseman under home plate. A wild and dangerous two-team scuffle ensued. Oh, and this: Molina had two hits, two RBIs and gunned a home run in the Cards’ 8-4 victory. Including the “brawl game” Molina has played 50 games at The Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati since the dust-up with the Reds. In those 50 games Molina has flayed Reds’ pitchers for a .290 average, 12 doubles, 9 homers, a .333 OBP and a .503 slugging pct. Call it Insta-slam.
* Not that Molina was in a foul mood. But did you see his emotional, animated performance on behalf of Puerto Rico in this year’s World Baseball Classic? Molina was a leader, an endless energy source, an intimidating defensive presence and menacing hitter. With his emotions soaring and his pride elevated to maximum level, Molina was probably the best player in the world at that moment in time.
* Probably a coincidence, but when Molina all but set himself on fire during the WBC he was also making a strenuous case for a new contract with the Cardinals. Sure enough, he got it: three years for $60 million through 2020.
Molina is helpful, and a good teammate and mentor, to Cards rookie catcher Carson Kelly.
Um, but Yadier doesn’t plan to hand the starting job to the kid or anyone else.
Pass the torch? Hell, no. But if you question or denigrate Molina, he’ll show you the torch … and it won’t be comfortable… just ask Matheny.
Or maybe Matheny outsmarted all of us by sparking Molina’s passion.
My earlier kidding aside, I kind of doubt that. But it ain’t a bad idea.
That’s why Matheny has to find ways to make Molina mad the rest of the season.
Start Kelly two days in a row.
Tell the media that before Carson Kelly retires, he’ll go down as the greatest Cardinals catcher in franchise history.
Tell the media that Molina isn’t getting any younger, and must be monitored more closely, kind of like the way we look out for grandpa when he starts to get a little fuzzy in the head and creaky in the joints.
Molina must go up to Molina at least three times a week and and say: “Are you OK? You’re moving so slowly, you could be mistaken for a human sun dial. You really look exhausted.”
Before the Cardinals play at San Francisco, Matheny should summon the media and pay homage to Posey by labeling him as a once-in-a-generation catcher who has no equal.
Matheny should randomly declare that he taught Yadi everything when they were teammates in 2004, when Molina graduated to the majors.
Yadi, that’s a fake quote.
Don’t Insta-bam me, bro.
Matheny, don’t let your club down.
The Cardinals — and Instagram — need more of Molina’s indignation.
Thanks for reading …