Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is the longest-tenured active athlete in all of St. Louis sports and arguably the most recognizable. He’s the face of the Cardinals today. So naturally, when he has an issue, people will listen.
Lots of people.
Which brings up the topic of Molina’s influence on public perception.
It’s no secret by now that many Cardinals fans are staunchly against manager Mike Matheny. There are many reasons as to why, ranging from mismanagement of the bullpen, constant lineup changes, and overall lack of energy. Perhaps the biggest reason, however, is the fact that he has the job that fan and player favorite Jose Oquendo should have had after Tony LaRussa retired in 2011.
Let’s flashback to last week: During a postgame press conference, Matheny said, “Yadi’s caught a lot. Yesterday, just kind of watching him go around the bases, too, you could tell that he’s, you know…” In retaliation, Molina wrote, “I train to play 174 games because that’s what it takes to be Champion, I’m not tired and the day I feel tired I’ll express it myself.”
Then, earlier this week, Molina once again made a post on social media (this one on Instagram), and said the following: “missing this man right here ‘secret weapon’ old school baseball”.
Following Wednesday’s win against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cardinals are 53-54 but have not been over .500 since June 2nd. At the pace the team is at, not only will they finish in third (or lower) in a weak National League Central, they will have the worst record under Matheny’s tenure as manager. The organization has been criticized for not making moves at the trade deadline when it’s clear improvements need to be made, and Matheny already has a hot seat in the eyes of the fans, even though there’s no sign of him no longer being manager anytime soon.
The issue regarding Molina comes down to one simple aspect: by being the franchise player, the one who sells the most merchandise, and gets the loudest ovation every time he steps up to the plate at Busch Stadium, he has the most influence on people’s opinions on certain topics.
Currently, there are those who feel Molina is being selfish, has an attitude issue, and is not being a true team leader. Those on his side agree with his statements and most of them feel like Oquendo got the managerial job stolen away from him.
Whatever the case may be, the 35-year old Molina has begun venting out frustrations that have caught the eye of fans, players, and coaches alike.