Yadier Molina left the Cardinals for “business” during the team’s most recent road trip, and now we know why.
Turns out, the longtime catcher is the owner of a Puerto Rican basketball team — Vaqueros de Bayamon — and joined them during the championship game.
Molina, who is in the middle of his 19th and final season, was placed on the restricted list and went unpaid for two days.
“It was tough,” Molina said of the decision to leave the Cards in the middle of a playoff race. “Obviously you want to be here with the team and doing your job. On the business side, you’ve got to be there with the team. And you’ve got to be there for the people over there.
“To be there with the people, with the team — it’s good for the people — so I did what I had to do.”
Well, that’s one way to put it.
Cardinals say Molina’s trip a “non-issue.” Was it, though?
Look, players have personal lives too and have to leave work all the time during the season; they have a baby, or their kid graduates college. Unfortunately, there can be a death in the family.
But leaving the team to watch the championship game of the … Baloncesto Superior Nacional finals?
That’s a new one.
Molina said he didn’t feel the need to discuss his departure with the clubhouse, insisting the players understood.
Manager Oliver Marmol said it was a non-issue “across the board,” the Cardinals won both games, Molina returned Monday for the series in Chicago and all appears peachy in St. Louis.
No harm, no foul, right?
However, if you read between the lines, it certainly appears the Cardinals weren’t thrilled.
“Molina met with manager Oliver Marmol last week and notified him and Cardinals officials of his decision to travel to Puerto Rico for the deciding game or two of the Baloncesto Superior Nacional finals,” writes Derrick Goold, who covers the team for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“He acknowledged that he would miss a game the Cardinals expected him to start in Arizona. The club responded to Molina’s choice by accepting he’d made it and placing him on the restricted list. He went unpaid for two days.
“The team was mostly surprised by Molina’s decision.”
Marmol went on to say that it was a non-issue essentially because of who Molina is: a captain, a future Hall of Famer and a staple within the organization.
Still, it was an odd decision, especially given that the team is in the middle of a playoff race with five weeks left in the season.
You know who’s not in a playoff race, though?
Vaqueros de Bayamon. The Vaqueros won the whole darn thing, baby — their 16th championship in team history.