Towards the end of the 2021 season, we heard from two of the greatest to ever play the game and their plans on how they intend to end their storied careers. Yadier Molina and Miguel Cabrera announced their intentions and plans for how they want to end their careers.
For Yadier Molina, the 2022 season will be his last behind the plate. As for Miguel Cabrera, he has let the Tigers know that he will retire in Detroit once his contract is up in two years.
After multiple instances of players overstaying their welcome in the last decade, having two superstars in the obvious twilight of their careers take ownership of their exits is refreshing. The last time we had two concerted efforts to celebrate a player’s legacy was when Derek Jeter hung up his cleats in 2014, and David Ortiz retired his in 2016.
By leaving no doubt as to when their time on the diamond was done, Yadi and Miggy are teaching us that it’s okay to say goodbye. But above all things, take your time. Leaving the timing of the end of your career murky doesn’t do anyone any favors. Going out in style allows fans to laugh, cry, cheer and smile for an entire season.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking sendoff we’ve been privy to in the last few years was that of David Wright, the Mets third baseman. While the night was full of smiles, tears, and a rookie not dropping Wright’s final foul pop-up, there was an air of disappointment. The man who was supposed to be the greatest Met to ever take the field in Queens wasn’t going out with a bang. Instead, he was waving to the fans as the Mets faded into mediocrity at the end of a horrid season. No part of it was easy, for the exact wrong reasons.
While the farewell tours of Derek Jeter and Ortiz drew ire from fans non-plussed about the celebration of just one player for an eternity, they can kick rocks when it comes to Miggy and Yadi.
Miguel Cabrera has been one of the best hitters of the last two decades and has the only Triple Crown win in 54 years. It’s hard to find a baseball fan who truly despises Miguel Cabrera, and that’s the legacy he’ll be leaving behind in two years.
As for Yadier Molina, the last of the Molina Brothers, no one has caught more games for one team than him. While that alone cements him as one of the game’s best catchers, his numbers also do their duty to bolster his Hall of Fame credentials.
And while both of these men are legends in their own right, there’s something incredibly special about both of them staying with the teams they made history with. As we saw earlier this year as Albert Pujols was released from the Angels only to sign with the Dodgers in the hopes of winning one more ring. We all knew Albert Pujols wasn’t the player he was ten years ago when he signed his mega-deal with the Halos, but still… we all were thinking that this would be a perfect time for “The Machine” to call it a career.
Even greats like Nolan Ryan didn’t get to choose the manner in which their careers ended, even though he hoped he’d finish in Texas. But that’s life, isn’t it?
Miguel Cabrera and Yadi Molina saying to their fanbases and franchises “we’re going out with you by our side” is something we don’t see too often these days. In a sport where business decisions often take precedence over fictitious concepts like loyalty and home, these two men are planting their flag in those two exact sentiments. A player staying to finish their career with the team who gave them their best years is a rarity. With large contracts, service time, and general bookkeeping practices, the ability to stay loyal to a team is all but impossible.
Hunter Pence playing his final season with the Texas Rangers. Paul Goldschmidt playing for the Cardinals. The Chicago Cubs shipped Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javy Baez out of Wrigley at the deadline. Franciso Lindor getting traded to New York for a rebuild package.
The age in which a player keeps the same locker is over, and it’s more the exception than the rule. But sometimes, you get to have your send off the way you want it: Surrounded by 30,000 of your friends, family, and fans. But if you’ve played in a city as long as David Wright, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Yadier Molina, and Miguel Cabrera have… there’s not too much of a difference between those three groups. And that’s a beautiful thing.
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