I believe Adam Wainwright thought he was healthy. And in fact, while it was not necessarily seen in the earned runs column, his first few initial starts this season were not bad. I remember those starts. He got bit by the 2023 Cardinals bug and his end of game line should have been better than the results. But at some point, he started pitching hurt. And the results followed. Eventually, he had to be put on the injured list. And then the Cardinals never really recovered and kept losing. Once it became clear the season was over, there was no reason for Wainwright not to pitch.
#STLCards cornerstone Adam Wainwright said his first offseason out of baseball will likely includes surgeries on his low back (multiple bulging discs) & his shoulder (needed clean up).— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) September 26, 2023
Those injuries, combined with upper back spasms, will prevent Wainwright from pitching again.
Well except one: not having to endure the pain that comes with throwing a baseball. Once 200 was accomplished, the pain was no longer worth it. Forget how bad he was this year. How the hell did he throw 7 scoreless innings? That was a remarkable performance.
I’ll be honest. It’s been tough being a Wainwright defender. I guess I’m more old school and emotional of a fan than I thought. I know Wainwright was not good, but it bothers me when I read about it or hear about it. Constantly. Wainwright’s 2023 season will not affect my opinion of him one iota. I will not remember his tenure as a Cardinal as lesser now or think less of him as a person.
I know people said they wished he retired even before an inning of a baseball had been played this year, but I said last year and maintain that the “whole dream” of him retiring him with Pujols and Yadi renders Waino a complete afterthought. He was an afterthought. As an enormous Wainwright fan, I wanted him to get a proper send-off.
I do hope Wainwright gets a chance to bat and I hope it’s as special as Matt Holliday’s pinch-hit home run. Since Wainwright wasn’t the only reason the Cardinals missed the playoffs, I’d say him coming back was worth it for #200 and something special happening this weekend. Honestly. I know most probably don’t agree with that.
Rob Rains wrote an article on Wainwright’s impact on his fellow starting pitchers, and I hope it has the effect on you that it did on me. The weight of his retirement began to sink in. You know the intangibles and the things we don’t see that Yadier Molina brought to baseball that 2023 really shined a light on? What if, on a smaller scale, we’ll miss something we can’t see or judge when Wainwright leaves? That’s what I thought when I read the quotes.
I can’t post everyone’s response. I recommend you read the post if you want that. But I can share some of the quotes that stood out to me, that suggest maybe he had an impact on the field beyond his own play:
“A lot of people don’t know when I was starting in place of him, after he had Tommy John surgery in 2011, while we were on the road I would call him every day at noon before that game and we went through the scouting reports and talked about the hitters and how we were going to go about it, before I went to the field and went through the reports with the coaching staff and catchers.” - Kyle McCllelan
“During my time in St. Louis, Adam was one of my best pitching coaches. In times when things were going well he would ask a really good question to try to help you think more deeply about your performance. When things were not going so well he would be the first one to grab me and pull me into the video room or go over situations that happen during the game and review it with me. He has such a great way of communicating by asking questions. He doesn’t just want to give you the answer.
I’ve been with eight organizations now, and I have yet to meet another Adam Wainwright.” - Trevor Rosenthal
“He was a great leader. I remember he would always say that he was trying to help the younger guys reach their full potential and added, ‘Even if you will take my job someday, my job is to help everybody raise their game to another level to help us win a championship.” - Michael Wacha
“I remember my rookie year when we were in the dugout during a game, me and Jack (Flaherty) were right next to Adam asking him to ‘walk us through’ the sequences that were going on in the game. He was watching Yadi call the game, and he was calling for the same pitches right along with him. We got to see what he was thinking and how he approached games.” - Dakota Hudson
“Whether it’s a good game or a bad game he always finds something positive to poin out. He’s really good at seeing the game for what it is, and seeing it from an objective point of view and not being emotional about it.” - Matthew Liberatore
Reading these quotes, I reluctantly am forced to say Wainwright would probably be a great coach. I say reluctantly because I make it a point to shoot down anyone who says he will be a future coach. I stand by that. Wainwright has been adamant that he has no interest in coaching. But it does feel like something may be missed that he won’t.
And no, I don’t think he’ll change his mind. If you’ve ever watched an interview of him in the past and he was asked about retirement, he has said he wants be back at home, and not miss any more of his kids’ childhoods. Coaching has the same exact drawback as playing without the thrill of actually playing - away from his family and his farm.
And that’s not even getting into the comments about his leadership, his friendliness, and his mentorship. We’re going to miss all that, but we won’t realize it. Current Cardinals players will. It’s things like these - and I don’t want to stress this too strongly because it’s not what this post is about - that maybe you could see a voter thinks are the missing blanks in order to put him in the Hall of Fame. And that will be my last mention of that.
The Cardinals’ twitter account has been doing a top 5 Wainwright moments of his career, with three already having been posted, one very obvious #1, and one probable #2. Here’s the list so far.
We're counting down our top five favorite moments from Adam Wainwright's legendary career!— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 25, 2023
#5: With the 2013 NLDS on the line, Waino goes the distance in Game 5.#STLCards x @CommunityAmerCU pic.twitter.com/RJchS0Chdd
It’s really a bummer that this one flies way under the radar because of how 2013 turned out, but Carpenter’s classic was also in the NLDS. Timing is everything.
Counting down our top five favorite moments of Adam Wainwright's legendary career.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 26, 2023
#4: Teammates. Friends. Brothers. And a record that will never be broken.#STLCards x @CommunityAmerCU pic.twitter.com/VwTmuuNz9e
The Pujols/Molina retirement tour was great of course, but I think if Pujols was in a different year, I would actually be right there with people in wishing Wainwright retired last year. Molina and Wainwright retiring together makes sense. Pujols just overshadows Wainwright completely, which is I guess where I feel like he didn’t get his proper goodbye last year.
And then #3 was his 200th win, which I’m not totally sure will stand up with recency bias goggles removed, but I guess only time will answer that. And even though you can guess #2 and #1 (and the #2 one might even already be known by the time you read this).
And #1, I mean come on. The pitch Wainwright will forever be remembered for, by literally every stripe of baseball fan, not just Cardinals’ fans.
If Wainwright’s pitching has left you a bit sour about Wainwright, I hope some of these clips bring back the nostalgia. And oddly enough, aside from that strikeout and his curveball in general, the thing I’ll remember about Wainwright the most will be his hitting. I hope he gets an opportunity to hit this weekend and against literally all odds, a home run would have me cheering like the Cardinals just won the World Series. So some hitting highlights is due.
Man those are extremely not cheap homers. Wow. Also this is not a homer, but for some reason this moment is one of the first Wainwright hitting things I always think about. He pinch-hit in extra innings and delivered what ended up being the game-winning runs.
I do actually miss when a pitcher would surprise you with a hit, I know the statistical case and all, but I feel like if I got to see Wainwright get a few hits and maybe stumble onto a homer, this season would have been a lot more enjoyable. I am finished yelling at the cloud.
This next homestand will be Wainwright’s last. I just want to see something special. A home run would be an unreasonable hope. But I want an improbable hit. Give me something. Give me my Matt Holliday moment* (who frankly, had three moments - he had the absolute perfect goodbye). I hope we see more of Wainwright in the future, presumably broadcasting and I hope I don’t have to listen to a national broadcast in order to do it (but I will).
*Really his 200th was his Matt Holliday moment, but I still want that moment where I pretend I am not crying. I was totally cutting onions purely coincidentally when Matt Holliday ran to LF, got a standing ovation, and then got subbed in.
Let this be a celebration of Adam Wainwright, and please share your highlights of his career if I haven’t already posted them. I am sure I am forgetting a few. And I’d be happy to revisit those memories. We’ve seen the last of Wainwright pitching, but I’m hoping we don’t see the last of Wainwright on a box score.