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Sweet lovers love the spring [training]

March 8, 2012

Three months ago today, The Future Hall of Famer Who Shall Not Be Named ruined everything.

Three months ago today, I stayed in bed with my book for an extra hour of the morning, because I knew in the pit of my soul that as soon as I fired up my computer and read the news, baseball would forever change for me. Three months ago today, I burst into spontaneous tears in the clothing section of my neighborhood K-Mart, and for once it wasn’t Jaclyn Smith’s fault.

The wound’s less fresh now, but my soul’s still on the DL. The Angels gave it a good hard whack with the hideous billboard they put up near my house, and TFHFWSNBN ripped out a few more stitches with the answers he gave in his most recent press conference (he “had some great moments” in St. Louis, y’all!). There have been small salves along the way—getting a slightly used Carlos Beltran for Christmas, seeing Adam Wainwright in action again, following the live-tweets from Jupiter as the Cards reassemble for another season—but it’s not easy to recover after taking so many cleats to the heart, after being made to feel like a romantic fool whose girlish passions have no place in today’s business of baseball. I’ve had an uncharacteristically tough time caring about my beloved Cardinals this spring, and by the time pitchers and catchers reported, I’d begun to wonder, honestly and terrifyingly, if I’d ever allow myself to ride the reckless, joyous wave of pure baseball-mania again.

I’m still unsure. But my cold, closed-off heart did creak open an inch last week, pried out of its steely misery by a guy we know as Yadi.

In the days after TFHFWSNBN skipped town, Cardinal Nation found a few spare moments amid the rending of jerseys to consider with horror that his best buddy and soon-to-be fellow free agent, Yadier Molina, might be the next to go. It wasn’t an illogical fear: Yadi’s longtime defensive genius and ever-improving bat meant that a slew of clubs would presumably be eager to throw cash at him if he hit the open market; his failure to show up for the Winter Warm-Up seemed to signal a brewing dissatisfaction with the front office; and the Angels’ lack of a solid long-term catching option, combined with Yadi and TFHFWSNBN’s daily phone chats, churned the stomach of any Redbird loyalist who was paying attention. When Molina’s agent announced that no contract talks would be entertained once the season began, we all saw the writing on the dugout wall.

And then, a miracle occurred.

Yadier said that he’d go where the money was. The Cardinals put the money in front of him. He took it. Everybody said “thank you.”

No drama. No devastation. No….really?

It’s not the stuff of epic romance, and that’s precisely why it’s helping me learn to love again. My heart isn’t prepared for anything more than baby steps just yet—any player who came to me today with promises of undying devotion would be sent away in a fit of bitter fury, possibly with a pair of sports socks shoved in his mouth. Yadi didn’t do any coy glove-dropping; Mr. Rawlings stays firmly on his hands. He didn’t get on his knees; that’s reserved for when he’s gunning down baserunners. He didn’t ply us and play us with a year’s worth of enigmatic flirtations, or keep us slavering at his feet in the vain hope that our loyalty might have any impact whatsoever on his.*

Thanks, Yadi, for giving us the next six years of your talents, and for not demanding any more than we’re able to give back to you in our bruised and battered condition. You’re a good dude, and if I’m not ready to allow you out of the Friend Zone just yet—well, I hope you can take that as the compliment it is. Welcome back.


* And neither he nor his wife invoked any deities in explaining the decision to stay with the Cards.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. lashumway permalink
    March 8, 2012 12:54 pm

    Yadi’s good people–and he’ll be a good player longer than that other guy(what was his name again). I could forgive whatshisname better if he hadn’t lied about it not being about the money in the first place. That’s almost as bad as Jack Clark going to the Yankees to be closer to home(in California).

    • March 8, 2012 7:00 pm

      Co-signing everything you just wrote. And (as I posted last week on somebody’s Facebook thread) I now have a 2012 All-Star Game fantasy: Tony orders Albert walked, and Yadi promptly picks him off first. I’d give about a year’s salary to see that.

  2. March 10, 2012 10:23 am

    The dude was instrumental in two world series wins for you, so I wouldn’t complain. And why shouldn’t he make his job decisions about money? Unlike for us fans–for whom baseball is about love–it is the players’ job, and it is unfair to hold them to some “higher” standard. Not to mention that the teams are run to make as much money as possible, and no one ever complains about that.

  3. March 10, 2012 10:25 am

    Oh, and BTW, Yadi is awesome. I have always been a fan of all the Molina brothers.

  4. March 12, 2012 6:13 pm

    I am just happy last season is officially OVER.


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