Early on in this series (but what seems like eons ago), we talked about what the work stoppage would be like for Yadier Molina. Today, let’s look at the other elder statesman of this organization, the man who is almost synonymous with Molina, Adam Wainwright.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Wainwright is awesome. Whether it’s making a sizable contribution for minor leaguers, continuing to run his Bible study (that anyone can join), helping to promote local restaurants, or just keeping fit for the season in his own inimical way, Uncle Charlie is an incredible person and someone that you can be proud to see in a Cardinal uniform. If time didn’t matter and people didn’t age, you’d love to see him pitch for another 20 years.
However, time does matter and people do age. Right now, Wainwright is aging toward the end of what typically is a career window age-wise. He’s 38 right now, turning 39 in August. So by time he gets back on the field, he’ll be much closer to his last birthday with a three in the front.
I have to figure that, if baseball returns this summer, the break might be a good thing for him. He can make one last push of three months or so instead of dealing with the yearly grind. He can be fresher when it comes to the stretch run and to the playoffs. While he’s still got some in the tank, getting a chance to rest, recharge, maybe come up with a new trick or two probably offsets the fact that he’s going to be months older when they pick up than he expected to be when throwing his first pitch in competition.
What happens, though, if our discussion yesterday comes true and there’s no baseball this season?
If that happens…..I have to think we’ve seen the last of Wainwright in a Cardinal uniform.
I’m sure the organization would be willing to bring him back on another one of these incentive-heavy deals, but would that be something he’d want to do at 39 1/2? After a year at home being a dad, especially with that new son, and most likely starting to get involved with that charity work he plans to do after baseball? Would he want to try to build back up and spend another year on the road, not knowing exactly how his body is going to respond?
There’s no doubt Wainwright is a competitor. He’s going to answer the bell this year if it rings. After that, though, he had no obligation. No responsibility. 2021 doesn’t have to be his fight.
I feel like, if there’s no baseball this season, that’s probably it for Waino. If there is, he might play this year and try again next year, but I think the entire year off would be more of a hurdle than he’d want to clear. If that’s the case, I can’t fault him at all and salute him for a job well done.
And start the countdown until he’s inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame on the first ballot. I guess they’ll go with the formality of a vote, since they did with Chris Carpenter, but it’s a slam dunk for sure.
Hopefully this is all moot and we get games this year. I would like to see that curveball a few more times!