Buffa’s 5 Things: Yadier Molina reminding the youth who the king is never gets old

Yadier Molina is a king. Maybe THE King. In St. Louis at the moment, he is the legend that never dies. Somehow, reeling against the rigors of Father time, Molina continues to look resilient behind the plate.

The latest example came during a spring training game on Sunday. Astros facing off against the Cards. Jake Woodford puts a guy on first base, and suddenly the March fields of exhibition turn into an early August afternoon getaway day at Busch. That’s how Molina’s mind works once a runner gets on base. It’s war and there’s only two outcomes: safe or out. This time, the eventual first ballot Hall of Famer taught a blunt lesson to a young man.

After entering the game as a pinch runner, Jose Siri left the game nearly as quickly as he entered it. After barely getting picked off by a spying Molina, the guy with as much Major League experience as me tried to taunt the best defender in the game. Yadi basically told Siri afterwards, “Say when,” daring the runner to take second base. Three pitches later, Yadier was burning a gaping hole in a raw talent’s chest. The old lion reminding the league that age is merely a state of mind to great catchers born in the summer of 1982. Jomboy said it best in his latest masterpiece of a video replay. He’s like when Sportscenter used to be good.

Here’s the deal. While he can fire up the drama in unnecessary ways, Molina remains a phenomenon to watch on a baseball field. Few can do what he did, spring or fall, in Sunday’s game. A runner reaches and doesn’t even make it to seconds thanks to his perfect setup. The stare down, coupled with a reputation that needs no introduction, leading to a showdown that managers probably could care less for. But for Cardinals fans, it was a reminder of how great he still is, salary demands and all. He is the best catcher I will ever see, and I just passed the 39 mark. My doubts are missing with him. One last ride? Probably not, but if the goods remain that efficient, who cares about a driver’s license?

That was the first entry in the latest round of 5 things. The better, longer version on Molina’s latest heist resistance came from my teammate over at KSDK News, Corey Miller. Simple headline, no fancy pants shlock here. Let’s get into the second thing, which is Vladimir Tarasenko’s sexy Russian ass being back on the ice during a Blues game. Yeah, I am a little aroused, so just stay with me. The Blues weren’t just an injury-riddled bunch for the past few weeks; they just became boring. Losing a lot, squandering points while collecting enough to stay afloat.

Overall, a modest outlook but lacking that signature element. Well, in just two games, Tarasenko’s effect is being felt large and wide. When he’s on the ice, the other team now has to realign their worries and defense, which changes the slab of ice for the four other players with #91. He may not be as young or lethal as he once was-he will be 30 in December after all-Tarasenko can still heavily affect the outcome of a game.

Even in a losing effort on Monday, Tarasenko recorded his first points (a pair of assists) since Oct. 21, 2019. The Blues are highly capable of going on a run very soon, and a near-the-top-of-game Tarasenko would be exactly the fuel this team needs. It seems like we were just saying this a year ago, when Tarasenko was close to coming back before COVID-19 shut it all down. A year later, he has the chance to make a big impact, potentially his last.

I say that because I wince whenever an opponent gets his legs set and goes after Tarasenko along the boards. He’s one bad hit from screwing that shoulder up for good. He has two more seasons of a $7.5 million cap hit left on his eight year contract. If he’s anywhere near 90 percent, that’s money well spent. But an unsure, hard-hit weary Tarasenko isn’t one I want to see. Here’s to good health for the tank. May his legs be swift and his shoulders be extra mighty. Please, Vladimir, stick around.

Real quick, but the turkey chili at St. Louis BREAD COMPANY/not Panera is still an amazing lunch on a late winter day. Yeah, it’s still the chilly season officially, no matter the 70-degree temperatures. I don’t need their half-pound of ciabatta bread with a tiny scoop of tuna salad when I can have the TC or the broccoli cheddar soup. Get extra bread, hold the soft-toss deli meat, and lean into one of the best Emilio “Breakfast Club” lunch bag chilis that I have ever tasted. Go get some, and if your Bread Co. window face is Brandon, say hello.

For the first time in my life, I got to operate a demolition drill. Talk about striping off 10-15 years off my own birth certificate, and turning into a bona fide kid again. Now that the Rachel kitchen remodel had reached the muscle phase-and my arms felt like Jello after hammering a couple rows of tile-we decided to head over to the Depot and grab a bigfoot tool. The kind you plant the lead leg, say a tiny prayer for the floor, apply some pressure, and prepare for every vein in your arm to scream, “Holy shit! Hallelujah! Where’s the Tylenol?”

Nolan Arenado is going to stick around. I know Albert Pujols and Alex Pietrangelo left their respective thrones, but Arenado arrives in St. Louis with a contract that pays him very handsomely into his 30s. He comes to St, Louis as Bill DeWitt Jr. and John Mozeliak’s superstar ploy to knock the NLCS dust off the Busch Stadium rafters. His effect on the team shouldn’t begin and end with home/road splits. I can guarantee you he will produce an .800 OPS for at least five seasons. Most likely, it will be higher.

Add in Gold Glove work at third base, a vicious desire to win a World Series (his competitiveness resides in the Yadier neighborhood), and a bat that doesn’t rely solely on power-and you have a lethal threat who is just turning 30 soon. Do you really think he’s opting out? The Cards are shedding payroll in November, and he knows it. Arenado waived his no-trade clause to come here. Why just pick up and leave? No reason. Not one at all.

Thanks for reading.

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