No crying in baseball, eh? Waino missed that memo! (I have my doubts that he was alone …)
Today, the St. Louis Cardinals held the official press conference to announce Adam Wainwright’s reported five-year $97.5 million contract extension. After hearing from Mr. DeWitt speak about how important it is to the organization to keep guys like Waino on the staff, and from John Mozeliak about the challenges of deal-making (and how much easier it is when both parties have the same end-goal!), Wainwright took the podium with a notebook page filled with thank yous.
If ever there was an example of how much a baseball town like St. Louis can mean to one individual, this was it. Adam immediately admitted he might not make it through what he wanted to say without “crying like a baby,” (to which his adorable daughter in the audience responded, because Adam said “You’ll help me through it, right?” Precious.)
Also, if there was ever any doubt about how Wainwright felt about the city and the people of Cardinal Nation, he erased them. He said his heart is in St. Louis. He recalled the drive to the “beautiful Busch Stadium” and how he loves the image of the arch on the morning commute. He recounted the emotions of a Georgia boy being traded away from the Braves organization and the uncertainty of what came next.
But, I’d say it worked out pretty well, as evidenced by the mile-long list of people he wanted to thank: Mr. DeWitt, Mo, Dave Duncan, Tony LaRussa, Chris Carpenter (which he barely made it through), other pitchers like Jason Marquis, Braden Looper, Jason Isringhausen, his current teammates (many of which were there) who he credited with growing his character as a man, not just a ballplayer, his catcher, Yadi — “The best in the game,” and the training staff.
He wound his way around his entire career, clearly meaning every word, and expressing by his emotions alone that this contract means more to him than a (yes, large) paycheck.
In that same retrospective mood, he addressed his family, his friends and the fans that embraced him. When he was struggling to continue (“This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. A LOT harder!”), he summed it all up with this —
“St. Louis, I love you!”
And the moral of the story: Waino is as excited to stay with the Cardinals as the fans are to have him locked in.
It’s a good day in Cardinal Nation.
And Adam, we love you, too!