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Sorry, but I still think Yadier Molina choked

Sep 13, 2012, 3:12 PM EST

Yadier Molina AP AP

Choking, in my view, is what happens when someone faces a pressure situation and responds in an unusual and suboptimal way. Sometimes it’s more physical than mental – I know I missed a couple of wide open nets playing soccer back in the day — and sometimes it’s all mental. My opinion is that Yadier Molina choked when he decided to drop down a sac bunt in the top of the ninth inning down a run against the Padres last night.

Make no mistake: Molina had never before bunted in such a situation. Of the 42 sac bunt attempts he had made in his career, three had come with his team down a run. All three of those — one in 2005, one in 2006 and one in 2007* — had come with his team at home, when playing for the tie makes a lot more sense. They also all came when Molina was a lesser hitter than he is now.

So, Molina made a decision he wouldn’t normally make. It took place in the ninth inning of a big game with the Cardinals on the verge of being swept. And it hurt the Cardinals’ chances of winning (by drastically reducing the chances of a multi-run inning). That’s pretty much my definition of choking.

*(In case you were curious, he was successful on all three of those bunt attempts and two of them helped the Cardinals win the game. The 2005 bunt came in the seventh inning and led to a game-tying run, though given that two hits followed, one guesses they would have at least tied it regardless. In the 2006 game, Molina gave up the out in the ninth and the Cardinals went on to score two runs to win anyway. In the 2007 loss to the Pirates, Albert Pujols ended up popping up with the bases loaded to end it.)

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Aren’t you making the assumption that the bunt signal wasn’t put down. To me, it is far more likely that the bunt was ordered from the dugout. Under your premise, Molina should have been like “Screw you Mattheny…Yadi does what Yadi wants.” How is following the direction of your manager choking? Furthermore, would it not have been good blogger form on your part to figure out who ordered the bunt before you spew your probably ill informed opinion?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      Shit, even Deadspin will try to figure stuff out before they spew their opinions and if they don’t they will retract statements if wrong….and Deadspin is considered the TMZ of sports blogs. Makes you wonder.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      Matheny said Molina did it on his own. Molina said he did it on his own.

      Matheny defended the decision afterwards, as one would expect any good manager to do.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        Okay fair enough…..mistake in judgment yes, choke no. Good work on following up. Yay for you Mr.Blogger.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Valentine would have called him out for a boneheaded mistake.

      • cardswhine - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:34 PM

        you know the only way to raise a cards fans ire faster than criticizing homolina is to praise brandon phillips

      • raysfan1 - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:26 PM

        Really? You think your point is made better with a faux-clever bastardization of a man’s name with a gay slur?

    • okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      Reading the headline and knowing exactly who wrote it has become common place with the blogger in queston.

      Whether it’s redefining “choking” or trolling twitter for alternative words for “douche” then gloriously settling on “dipwad” as his go to – same song, same blogger.

      Nothing like setting the bar low and continually limbo-ing underneath.

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:30 PM

        Blogger:

        “I missed a couple of wide open nets playing soccer back in the day”

        Soccer?

        That, uh….figures.

        Now go have some Capri Sun and an orange slice before nap time.

        Soccer…hysterical.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:13 PM

        Nothing like setting the bar low and continually limbo-ing underneath.

        Like making fun of another sport?

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM

        No, like making fun of the blogger who actually admits to playing it.

        That’s a hanging curve on a 3-0 and everyone should have the green light.

  2. rooney24 - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Did this really require a new post? Couldn’t you just have tried to further explain your (possibly uninformed) position on the original post? If it came from the dugout (likely), then your opinion is that Yadi should have been a selfish player and ignore orders from the manager. Just let this one die and quit making yourself look more foolish.

    • thebadguyswon - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      Snark and trolling are the name of the game in blogging, baby!

  3. thatyankeedude - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    At least you defined your opinion of choking. With your definition yes he did choke. However choking is usually associated with nerves. Yadi wasnt nervous. He was more than likely told to bunt and even if he wasn’t told then he was still trying to make sure that runner got home no matter what. No he wasn’t nervous and really his teammates should have been able to have his back. It’s not a one man show out there. You could say the cardinals choked but Yadi didn’t. It takes the entire team to lose and win a game.

    • paperlions - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      Yeah, it is a dumb definition. Words mean things, and in the context of sports choking already means far too many things….and it doesn’t mean to make a bad decision.

      Choosing to change the definition of a word so that you can use it to mean something it doesn’t in order to convey unwarranted negative connotation says far more about the perpetrator of the malapropism, than it does about the subject….and if you are going to make your living with words, you really need to use them to mean what they mean.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:34 PM

        Of course it can mean making a bad decision. Chris Webber? Grady Little?

      • Alex K - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:01 PM

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe what Webber or Little did as choking.

        Paper is right. If your going to make a living writing, using words correctly is key.

      • djpostl - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:59 PM

        “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe what Webber or Little did as choking.”

        Really? you been in a coma for a while?

        Hit up google and type in “Chris Webber choke” and see the multitude of “Greatest Choke Artists Of All-time” lists that poor decision landed him on.

      • Alex K - Sep 13, 2012 at 8:16 PM

        I don’t spend my time looking up choking in sports. So pardon me not ever hearing someone call Chris Webber’s mistake a choke. Doesn’t change the point that if you’re a writer you can’t just make up new definitions of words.

    • geoknows - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      Yes, the dictionary definition of choke in a sports context is “to fail to perform effectively because of nervous agitation or tension.” Sorry, Matthew, but your definition is incorrect.

      • schlom - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:56 PM

        Wait, isn’t that what Molina did? He didn’t even try to knock in the tying run himself or attempt to get the go-ahead run on base (in the top of the ninth inning or a clutch situation). By your definition Molina definitely choked.

  4. elmaquino - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    You should be a sports talk radio guy, Matt. That might get your words to your target audience a little better.

  5. randygnyc - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Everyone keeps saying, “if it came from the dugout”…. It did NOT come from the dugout. Matheny said as much. So did Molina, btw.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:57 PM

      It matters not Randy. Choking is when you fail to produce. When succumb under pressure.
      Yadier successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt. A “successful” sac. bunt.
      You can disagree with his decision to bunt…but you can’t argue the outcome.
      I do find it hilarious the “dipwad” took so much heat for the initial article he felt compelled to write another article defending his “dipwad” definition of choking.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        That’s a pretty harsh definition of choking. The best baseball hitters, famously, fail seven out of ten times.

        I don’t think failure to produce means one choked.

      • schlom - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM

        Yes the bunt worked perfectly! Instead of stranding the runner on second to end the game, the Cardinals left him on third. That’s much better right?

  6. crookedstick - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Jeez, I’m an unreasonable Reds fan and even I think Matthew’s hating on the Cardinals and Molina is overboard and unprofessional!

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      Awesome C.S! I appreciate your honesty.

    • Alex K - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      I’m calling him out and I’m a Cubs fan. I’m not going to let my fandom keep me from calling a hacky, wrong, terrible post what it is.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:04 PM

        Yes…Alex. You are a Cubs fan. But as a Purple Aces Alum..you are forgiven.

  7. Nick C - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Unlike some of the other authors on this site who playfully troll fans of some organizations (Im looking at you Craig re: Phillies fans), I think Matthew truly hates the Cardinals. His continued denigration of everything Cardinals is extremely unprofessional. One would think that a national blogger on a MSM sponsored site would exhibit more professionalism and objectivity. Apparently, that is not the case. One would have to guess that Matthew is a fan of one of the other NLC teams that has consistently been beat down by the yearly excellence of the Cardinals. Jealousy, thy name is Matthew Pouliot.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      Wonderful point Nick.
      I would like to share something an elderly Gentlemen told me many years ago.
      I try to work it in whenever possible.
      “Success breeds jealousy.”

    • paperlions - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      I think MP is a mets fan, isn’t he?

      • Nick C - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:28 PM

        If he is there must be residual hatred from the 80’s when the Mets routinely turned superior talent into second place finshes to the Runnin’ Redbirds of Herzog vintage.

      • thebadguyswon - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:53 PM

        Except for that whole 1986 thing.

      • Nick C - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        thebadguyswon – Yep the Mets won in 1986. They had far superior talent in both 1985 and 1987 too but won neither of those years.

      • dondada10 - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:49 PM

        Chill. We don’t want him.

        D.J.’s the Mets fan.

      • paperlions - Sep 13, 2012 at 7:53 PM

        My bad….I know one of the writers was….couldn’t remember….so MP is the Twins fan? There is one of those too right?

  8. pmuadib - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I think ‘brain fart’ is the phrase you’re looking for. Choke implies failure, but Yadi succeeded at what he tried to do, it just wasn’t a smart decision.
    Calling that play the choke of the year is absurdly insane. It wasn’t even the biggest choke in that inning, which would go to Freese in the next at bat.

    • blues1988 - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:08 PM

      agreed, freese is the one who choked, not molina. mathew you are HUGE DOUCHE BAG

  9. Florio_Jr. - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    @rooney24 Well you know, he’s only allowed a certain window of time on his mothers Gateway down in the basement so he decided to make it known again. I heard Bernie Miklasz rip his sorry ass here in St. Louis today..it was wonderful. Reduced my stress level and everything.

  10. btwicey - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Lololol this is a first … The “oh crap these guys are pissed I better write a new post to clear things up”

  11. brewcrewfan54 - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    I think calling it a choke is the wrong way to clasify it. Choking means he failed. He didn’t fail. He successfuly moved the runner from 2nd to 3rd. It was a questionable strategy though.

  12. Alex K - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Sorry, you’re still wrong. It was an awful decision to bunt. He did not fail at his awful decision, which is what “choking” is. You can’t just make up your own definition of a commonly used word or phrase.

  13. butchhuskey - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Everybody chokes sometimes (it’s the nature of taking risks and dealing with high pressure situations) – whether it’s professional athletes, singers, blue collar workers, or even geniuses. However, the word choke generally means to fail under pressure because of nervousness. Molina might have made a bad decision (which I agree that he did), but it doesn’t seem like nerves or the pressure of the situation got to him. Honestly, you can have your own interpretation of the word choke, but that doesn’t mean it’s the correct meaning. Therefore, saying that Molina choked is silly because you’re stretching the meaning of the word and accusing Molina of weak mental fortitude in the process.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      Dead on Butch. Of course…changing and/or stretching the meaning better helps one try to illustrate their point. Of course…in this case it helps the “dipwad” backpedal or otherwise eat less crow.

  14. Nick C - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    I think its time to take to Twitter to find another word for unprofessional hack….nevermind the answer is Matthew Pouliot.

  15. randygnyc - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Stlouis- I hadn’t remarked at all with regards to an opinion on whether Molina choked or not. Just pointing out to those that keep insisting or speculating that the play was called from the dugout. Clearly, it was not. (and for the record, it was a mistake, IMO, not a choke)

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      I hear you Randy. It was definitely Yadi’s call. Not many guys have free reign to do that. The Cardinals have always allowed their better hitters to take such liberties.
      I think it was a bad call by Yadi in this situation. I mean…a ground ball likely gets the runner over to 3rd anyway. In fact, only a K or a Pop up could have prevented the runner from moving.
      We are good. I am outta’ here for the evening. Have a good one.

  16. modellforprez - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    yair marks is better than yadier molinee. he just is not that MAN anymore and kardinals offishalls is hot garbage rite now. the stinkin buccos should of passed them but they are the schmuccos for a reason nymsayin cuuuz….

  17. djpostl - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Anyone who thinks having one’s head up their ass and making a terrible decision cannot qualify as a “choke” is pretty clueless in my opinion.

    After all 90% of the game is half mental.

    • Alex K - Sep 13, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      So everyone but you and Matthew are clueless?

  18. saints97 - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Does it really matter if the Toilet thinks Yadier Molina choked?

    Seriously, how worked up can you get about a troll’s definition in regards to a team he doesn’t like?

    Recommendation: check the bloggers name before you click through to the article. Understand what you are getting into beforehand. This dude knows baseball about as well as Yadier Molina knows micro biology. Would you be worried if Yadi posted something that stupid in that field?

  19. ghostofjimlindeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    The Dipwad speaks again!! We get it Matt you hate the Cardinals. I feel ya man cause I really hate your blog posts. Your Skip Bayless cologne reeeeks today..

  20. Jonny 5 - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Reading this thread feels like walking into an insane asylum. Oh and even though I’d say he made a mistake, which all ball players do. It doesn’t bother me that someone else thinks he choked. Seriously, it’s not a big deal.

    • Alex K - Sep 14, 2012 at 6:51 AM

      I have a more overall issue with Matthew’s posts. This is just an outlet for me to express my unhappiness with the way he brings down the quality of the blog, overall.

      If a writer makes up his own definition of words he should be called out. It makes him an bad communicator and bad at his job.

  21. mrhojorisin - Sep 14, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    My gripe with this item is that you make the mistake, in your reference to the 2005 game, of presuming that the hits that followed Molina’s sac bunt were predestined. How can you assume that the pitcher threw those batters the same pitches that he would have had the bunt not taken place? To me, that indicates a lack of fundamental understanding about the game of baseball.

  22. fee14 - Sep 14, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Could it be he was feeling a little pressure getting to him and he made the wrong decision there. That is usually when bad decisions are made.

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