Now that we’ve gone through the Cardinals All-Decade team from all angles, let’s have a little fun. If the Cards were to have a captain for the decade – the best leader, the hardest worker, the epitome of Cardinals baseball in the 2000s – who would that player be? Here are the candidates for the honor of Captain Cardinal.
Albert Pujols: Pujols was obviously the MVP of the decade for St. Louis. We detailed his historic success as he truly was a Machine at the plate. Pujols is also a class act on and off the field, steering clear of the steroid cloud and being a role model in this tough time for baseball. He is down to earth despite his otherworldly success, and few work harder to be as great as he is. So, does all that add up to making Pujols the captain? Maybe we can add another nickname to the list, El Capitán.
David Eckstein: The king of hustle in this lazy era of professional sports certainly made an impression on me. The 5-7 shortstop never let up during his stay in St. Louis, and that attitude was infectious in the clubhouse. With one World Series ring from Anaheim, David brought the experience and will to win with him, and it showed in St. Louis. He may have brought a little bit of the rally monkey with him, too – showing the Cards to never quit. While he’s a long shot to don the “C” Eckstein is always a long shot. Did he do enough to win over Redbird Nation?
Mike Matheny: No, Matheny wasn’t included on the roster, but his leadership skills put him in this discussion anyway. Think of him as another coach on the staff, something he would be very good at. Matheny was the smartest player on the Cardinals and his vast knowledge of the details of the game makes him a top candidate for the captain position. He knows the game of baseball, something many players can’t say. Matheny played the game right and was the leader of many good Cards teams. His candidacy is based on intangibles, which are far more important than talent when naming a captain. Does he have enough substance to come out on top?
Yadier Molina: From teacher to student, Molina was a Matheny clone after studying under the great one. He paid attention, too. Yadi has become one of the most respected catchers in the game based on his love and care for his craft. The perfectionist catcher knows the position inside out and his presence alone makes the Cards a better team. He also studied under his brothers, as the Molina family is known as the catching family of baseball. It says a lot when most consider Yadi the best. But, is he the best man for the job?
Chris Carpenter: Finally, the ace. Carpenter makes the list because of his intensity on the mound. He wants to win every time out. His teammates better be ready to win every time out, too. He is fiery in a good way, keeping everyone on his toes and staying in that competitive zone. Carpenter thinks he should throw a perfect game every start, how can’t you love that?
There are your five deserving candidates. If you could only have one to represent Cardinals baseball in the 2000s, the coach on the field, who do you want to grace the “C” and the title, “Captain Cardinal.” Vote in the poll and debate your decision.