This is the way it used to be.

This is how it should be done.

This is an old-time baseball career.

An illustrious old-time baseball career in the sport’s present-day platform.

A forever partnership and relationship.

You play 19 seasons for the same team. You never had the desire to play anywhere else. What would be the reason? You could have chased more money, but what’s the point?

You play with distinction and make baseball history with the only team that you’ve ever loved, and in a town that you love. And it is a town and a team that loves you back — abundantly, unconditionally.

You lead your franchise to 11 postseasons, two World Series championships, four NL pennants, eight appearances in the NLCS, and MLB’s third-best winning percentage over your first 18 years.

You’re a 10-time All-Star who has won nine Gold Gloves, four Platinum Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and the Roberto Clemente award. You are 39, and still feared by opponents and revered by your teammates.

You have set the standard for catching excellence, competitiveness, and leadership. You have handled dozens and dozens of pitchers and called thousands and thousands of pitches for a franchise that has MLB’s second-best ERA during your time as the brain behind the plate.

You have denied or dissuaded stolen bases with a revolver for an arm. But you have never stolen a paycheck. No, sir. Never. You have played baseball’s toughest, most punishing position and defeated pain and agony. The jabs of foul tips have stung or shaken you more times than you can count. And yet — and yet! — you fight to stay in the lineup, even when everything hurts. And when the weariness runs deep, you are at home in bed after games, working the iPad and looking at video to put together scouting reports on the hitters that will soon play against your team.

And when baseball people praised your defense but added that you’d never be a good hitter, you took the challenge and will end your career listed among the all-time leaders in important offensive categories for your team.

You are Yadier Molina.

Cardinal For Life.

Thank you.

“It will be my final season,” Molina confirmed during a Zoom video session with the media. “It will be my final season. That’s what I wanted to do … It’s going to be my last year. I want to finish here in this great organization.”

He’s the greatest and most indestructible catcher in franchise history.  One of the greatest catchers in major-league history. A future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a future luminous presence in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

In 2022 Molina will go out the best way: by being a Cardinal from beginning to end, for nearly two decades, and becoming one of the true legends at his position while repping STL. He’ll have a type of career that is all but impossible to achieve at a time in MLB when players hop teams — and front offices shuffle rosters in a way that lessen costs by replacing higher-salaried veterans.

Molina will go out by having a final, fabulous opportunity to show his appreciation for the Cardinals and their fans, and let everyone hug him back. He will be celebrated in every ballpark the Cardinals visit in 2022. They may boo him in Cincinnati, but that will come out of respect from years of fierce and entertaining baseball battles.

Molina’s catcher’s gear should be on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It should be on display at the Smithsonian. It should be studied by archaeologists. It should be examined by scientists.

I say that as a tribute to his high-quality endurance. Molina ranks near the top of MLB’s all-time leaders in games caught (4th) and games started (2,015.) He is fifth in most innings caught (17,450 and ⅔ ) and 10th in caught-stealing percentage (40.5%).

He is fifth in MLB history for defensive Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for catchers, and second in WAR runs fielding for catchers.

Molina is one of two men in MLB history — Johnny Bench is the other — that have caught 2,000 or more games for one franchise.

And the young catcher who couldn’t hit threw out that talk the way he throws out runners who dare to steal a base on him.

In franchise history Molina ranks fourth in hits (2,090) and soon will be third. He’s fourth in singles, fourth in doubles, seventh in RBI, seventh in total bases, 10th in extra-base hits, 10th in homers. When you look at these historical rankings, Molina’s name is hanging out in the company of Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Ken Boyer, Ted Simmons, Enos Slaughter, Sunny Jim Bottomley, and other heralded hitters.

It’s been a remarkable career.

This achievement doesn’t get talked about as much as it should: while it is more commonly pointed out that Molina has played in more postseason games than any player in National League history — there is usually a failure to include Molina’s distinction of playing in more postseason wins (52) than any player in NL history. He also has the most postseason hits (101) and doubles (19) by an NL-only player.





Yadier Molina.

“When you watch them play a long and distinguished and Hall of Fame career with the organization, to have someone to want to stay and be a part of something from Day 1 to where their career ends is just remarkable in this day and age,” Cardinals president of baseball ops John Mozeliak said via Zoom conference. “Anybody who was sitting on my side of the table realized here you have this treasure, this person who has been iconic for an organization, and what am I supposed to do – fight over money? … The man has earned a lot of respect.”

Molina’s age, 39, has led to some erosion in his defensive skill — especially the movement behind the plate in framing and blocking pitches. And except for his consistently superb touch in coming through with RBI hits when runners are in scoring position, Molina has been a below-average hitter overall (based on adjusted OPS) in four of the last five seasons.

But there’s no need to sweat or fret over this now — just like it was silly to moan about Derek Jeter’s faded offense and defense during his final two seasons with the Yankees. Some players — very few players — transcend the usual methods for parsing statistics.

There have been many great players. But fewer all-time great players. And even fewer all-time great players that have extensive and successful careers with one team, in one town. Molina is to the St. Louis Cardinals what Derek Jeter was to the New York Yankees.

Molina remains a treasure, valued by his team and his teammates and the fans that savor watching one of the inner-circle preeminent Cardinals competing for them.

The Cardinals won’t be paying Molina $10 million next season to take a bow.

They’ll be paying him because he still shuts down a running game and bats well over .300 with men in scoring position. They’ll be paying him because he still makes his team better. The Cardinals will pay him because love and respect and impact can’t be measured by a price or advanced metrics.

And the Cards will be paying Molina because he’s one of the most prolific winners that this classic, historically profound team has employed in its 100-plus seasons. These attributes still endure for the iconic Yadier Molina, Cardinal For Life.

Thanks for reading …


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* All stats used here are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.