Sweethearts, both of 'em!
Less Terrible is a new Cubs DNA feature where one of our staffers picks two hated MLB personalities and tries to decide which one is less terrible. This column literally started on a dare as a way to give you, dear reader, a chuckle and a way to vent with us. This installment takes a look at two catchers that put the "stop!!!" in "backstop": the Cardinals' Yadier Molina and former White Sox (and Cardinal!) A.J. Pierzynski. Will either be deemed less terrible? Let's find out.
The minute I finished writing my first Less Terrible I knew I would eventually need to include one Yadier Benjamin Molina in one of these things. I mean, is there anyone Cubs fans hate more than Yadi other than maybe Ryan Braun? And since I already started off with Milwaukee's finest cheater, I just needed to wait for the perfect LT partner for Yadi to come to me. Then one night, in the shower, like my worst nightmare, it did.
So let's barrel right in, shall we? And remember... we have three criteria for deciding who is less terrible: 1) How does their awfulness directly impact the Cubs? 2) How terrible are they as human beings in the general sense? And 3) has anything good ever resulted of their general badness? Let's get ready to rumble!
Question 1: The Cubs Query
Yadier Molina's history of being an annoying, joyless prig is pretty widely known, particularly to Cubs fans who have had to put up with his sour puss and oversensitive reactions ever since he came into the league. Let's start with a recent one--that time our beautiful, sparkly MVP Kris Bryant made a joke during a very clearly jokey Cubs Convention thing and said the horrible, offensive line that St. Louis is "boring." Remember how Yadi got instantly mad online? No really... instantly.
And then he just... stayed... mad online for, like, two days... angrily replying to Cubs fan comments and somewhere calling Bryant a "dump big loser."
#dumpbigloser (Pic: AP)
Our buddy Brett Taylor at Bleacher Nation provided this handy GIF scroll of it at the time:
It's not just our sweet, new dad Sparkles that made Yadi mad with a playful comment, though. The year before, Willson Contreras said at Cubs Convention (is Yadi stalking Cubs Con?) that he wanted to be better than him and Buster Posey. It was a complement, if you think about it, but Yadi almost immediately got mad online again with an Instagram post that amounted to, "Know your role, kid!" Because you should never aspire to be better than him, I guess?
Maybe Willy just needs stickier gear?
OH, and remember that time Yadi tried to fight Cole Hamels for grazing his elbow pad, and Cole was just like... "I might be pretty, but I will kill you!"?
I feel like you could use that title for just about any scenario between Yadi and the Cubs and it would be accurate: "David Ross eats breakfast and Yadi gets mad." "Daniel Descalso pops out to second and Yadi gets mad." "Anthony Rizzo's dog is adorable and Yadi gets mad." You get the idea.
A.J. is a different animal when it comes to the Cubs. He doesn't have a specifically heinous pattern of behavior when it comes to the Cubs (more like, generally heinous toward everyone, but we'll get to that). In fact, one of the things that brought him to mind for this very farticle was a recent Jomboy recap of that time when... well, you remember it.
Relative to the Cubs, this round has only one true #dumpbigloser.
Winner: A.J. Pierzynski
Question 2: General D-Baggery in the Broadest Sense
Yadi's big mad tendencies rear their head with other teams, too. Remember when he did that throat slash thing because the Cardinals were collectively big mad at Ronald Acuña for hitting a lot of dingers and flipping his bat and doing the throat slash thing first during the 2019 NLDS?
You can't spell "Saint Louis" without "S-A-L-T."
That said, his on-field priggishness doesn't seem to translate to his teammates, who have nothing but universal praise for our constant nemesis. This cannot be said for our friend A.J., who is rumored to be a... challenge. If you go to Reddit, you'll find thread after thread of what just might be burner accounts for Pierzynski's former teammates with stories of how crappy it was to play with him when the actual game wasn't going on. Sure, when he was on the field he was the guy you wanted out there trying to get as close to cheating as possible without actually breaking any rules to give you an advantage.
See, during much of A.J.'s career, his teammates seemed to tolerate him because he was actually pretty good at baseball. What were some of the things he (allegedly) did that merited the word "tolerate?"
Treated younger players like dirt rather than helping/mentoring them.
Loudly complained in the media about any and everything, including his teammates, coaches, manager, and things like perceived All Star snubs.
Got himself tossed from a game while he was catching a no-hitter.
Kneed a Giants trainer to the junk (while he was on the Giants, BTW) after he took a ball to the groin and the trainer asked him how it felt.
Refused to work with his pitchers before games because he had more important things to do. Like playing poker.
Pierzynski's former manager Ozzie Guillen once said that if you played against him you hated him, and if you played with him you hated him a little less. That... says a lot. In fact, once A.J. was no longer good at baseball and was a member of the Red Sox, his teammates went to the front office and complained about how crappy of a person he was.
Bad at baseball, but fun to watch.
We all remember hating A.J. at some point during our baseball-watching lives, and he was only in the National League for about a minute! I think that makes him the big loser of this round.
Winner: Yadier Molina
Question 3: Has either of these miserable people ever made anyone smile?
I give Yadier Molina all the credit in the world for his charity work for the people of Puerto Rico. He's done a lot of fantastic things there, and deserves a lot of praise for it. I just can't get past what a constant sourpuss he is. He's not even fun to mock... he's just sad. I would trade ten Yadis for Mike Trout right now if I had them, just for an upgrade in attitude. And yeah, A.J. sucks, but I'm a Cubs fan, and he mostly sucked where I didn't have to watch him.
Also, we all know it was Javy that made this fun.
Winner (by TKO): A.J. Pierzynski
I guess in the grand scheme of things, I always knew Yadi had no shot in the most boring city in the world of winning this thing. I just really needed to talk myself through it. QED.