So here is the dilemma: Yadier Molina is awesome and beloved; Yadier Molina is clearly getting old; Yadier Molina and the Cardinals have a mutual option for Molina's services in 2018 and nothing at all beyond that.
Do you want to see Yadier Molina playing baseball with a gross Arizona Diamondbacks or Miami Marlins uniform on? Barf! You do not. But do you want the Cardinals to commit several years' worth of the catcher position to an old player who, let's be realistic (yes, I know, but let's) is still pretty good but will more likely than not stop being good any minute now? No! Of course you don't.
What you want, and what I want, is for the Cardinals to (A) retain the symbolism and joyful memories that are inextricably attached to the sight of Yadier Molina playing catcher for the Cardinals, but not (B) employ the flesh-and-blood Yadier Molina as their starting catcher once age catches up with him and he starts to suck. This is a dilemma because, as a close observer will have noted by now, reconciling A and B is impossible.
Still, humans are very creative, and here are some (bad) solutions that some people have proposed:
- Just give him whatever he wants! Okay, no, I appreciate what you are doing here, but you are ignoring Dilemma Part B.
- Feel bad about it but let him walk. Haha just kidding, nobody actually proposes this except probably Peter Thiel, who is an actual vampire. Don't be like that.
- Make him player-manager! Guys.
- Sign him to a modest four-year extension with the understanding that he's going to spend a lot of it mentoring Carson Kelly and happily sitting on the bench chewing sunflower seeds while somebody else handles the pitching staff and calls the games and gets to have occasional heroic moments in front of an adoring crowd and this is totally something that Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny would let happen. GUYS.
Each less realistic than the last. And, of course, the Cardinals aren't the only team with a problem like this. The Yankees
had to deal with Derek Jeter
(retained, to their detriment), the Phillies
had it with Chase Utley
(traded, which was sad), Boston will have it with Dustin Pedroia
, Milwaukee with Braun, etc. etc. etc. So here is what we do about these situations:
MLB should stop drug testing players who both (1) have spent the last 10 years with the same team and (2) are at least 35.
Look how neatly we have solved the dilemma! Now I can be happy that the Cardinals are making sure an all-time favorite of mine retires a Cardinal, and also, hey... he might stay fairly productive, which encourages the Cardinals to keep him. At the very least, he'd have more options for staying healthy and in the lineup. And who knows: he might even have an out-of-nowhere vintage Molina season in his farewell year, make the All-Star team, and give the media and fans everywhere a chance to remember a great player as he once was, unsullied by time or the pesky PED fears we'd rather not think about.
There's even a good name for this change: the David Ortiz
Now somebody out there is going to come lecture us (I say us because I know you have already realized what an outstanding idea this is) about purity and Lou Gehrig and integrity and the Good Old Days. Well, you know what lacks integrity? The sight of an old, tired Yadier Molina crumming around out there for the White Sox
. The sad spectacle of the Yankees playing Brendan Ryan
at first base
while Jeter stands legendary and statuesque at the shortstop position because at root these guys are all children who never had to grow up. You choose your integrity, I'll choose mine.
By the way, some of you who have made it this far think I'm kidding, but I'm not.
I am not kidding that there is a kind of integrity in this. Anti-drug purists care about arbitrarily drawn lines of physical enhancement (stem cells yes, HGH no). Well, call me a purist of iconography instead of enhancement. My kind of integrity allows franchise icons to stay that way, or at least have a better chance at it. There's real value in that for fans, and for the sport. Who loses, other than a handful of pearl-clutching PED scolds? Carson Kelly's
got plenty of time.
Remember, too, this is a small set of guys being exempted from testing: ten years with the same team and at least 35 years old. Anybody who has done that has earned some kind of special spot in our memories and imaginations. That's what a "legacy" is, right? And the beauty of the David Ortiz Rule is that none of these players' legacies will ever be sullied, because they won't fail PED tests, because they're not being tested!
See, we've thought of everything; just forget about it. Let it go and enjoy the guy pulling a David Ortiz -- lord knows Boston fans did! Was he using something? Who knows! When it's our turn, we can just be equally big homers and say no, my hero would never do that. :WINK:
Worried about guys going all Cyborg Clemens and sticking around until they're 45? Don't be. The David Ortiz Rule doesn't apply after your 40th birthday.*
*unless you are the actual David Ortiz
Yadier Molina should retire a Cardinal, and the Cardinals should feel secure enough in his potential performance to be willing to pay for that. And I know how to make it work. Don't worry about it. It's fine.