Lost in the shuffle of a week full of postponements, makeups, tough losses, and amazing comebacks was the Cardinals return to Wrigley Field and the re-ignition of the rivalry for yet another season.
And while the two sides always deliver competitive games and intense atmospheres, this year’s iteration had one additional layer … the offseason “beef” between the Cardinals’ well-respected veteran catcher, Yadier Molina, and the Cubs’ young, supremely-talented backstop, Willson Contreras. You remember this, right?
Back during the Cubs Convention in January, Contreras got some unwanted (and, frankly, undeserved) attention after making some comments about how, one day, he knows he’s going to be better than the current generation’s elite-tier of catchers (Sun-Times):
“I used to watch a lot of those guys, but now I’m watching myself because I know that I’m going to be better than them. That’s my plan. That’s my [mindset] …. In my mind, I want to be the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Despite the innocuous nature of those comments, Molina responded by posting an Instagram photo that featured an image of himself, Posey, and Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez at the All-Star Game with “Respect the ranks!” written in Spanish.
Molina did this, of course, because every confident, true, and secure leader of ranks needs to remind those below him that he’s better than them.
After the photo was posted, Contreras mentioned that he looked forward to clearing things up with Yadi and expected to receive some tips/advice from him, “as he always does.”
Well, here we are, it’s the 2018 regular season and the Cubs/Cardinals just met for the first time. What’s the deal? Has anything developed?
Well, before Tuesday’s game, Contreras told the Sun-Times that he looked forward to talking to Molina, because they have respect for each other, “especially me for him,” and he wanted to resume the good relationship they’ve had over the past years-plus. It’s not clear if they ever officially sat down and talked about anything, but Molina was asked about the situation, and responded by calling Contreras a friend, shrugging it off and saying, “We’re good. We’re good.”
Annoyingly, I get the sense that Contreras felt it was necessary to apologize, Molina accepted that apology, and that’s why everything is “good,” right now, but that’s just speculation (but also, come on, that’s a pretty plausible scenario here).
I’m not really sure I can easily express why this is such an annoying story (Who cares what Contreras said? Why does it matter? Why wouldn’t/shouldn’t he say he thinks he can be the best? Why does he have to “respect the ranks?”), but it sure feels pretty self-evident. But I also guess less friction is better than more, so I’m glad these two have buried the breaking ball, so to speak. [Brett: Michael.]
Now, let’s just hope Contreras hits for the cycle today, Yadi grabs a golden sombrero, and Contreras texts him some pointers on his swing. That would be sweet.