The St. Louis Cardinals’ final homestand will be an emotional tribute to two legendary players as well as a preparation for the postseason.
Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina are coming out for their final curtain calls in St. Louis in the Cardinals’ three-game home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. The games are expected to be sold out to celebratate Pujols’ and Molina’s illustrious careers.
The series will undoubtedly send chills down the spines of Cardinals fans when these franchise cornerstones for so many years take their final hacks in the regular season at Busch Stadium. While Pujols is sitting on a pleasantly round number of 700 home runs, the idea of him popping at least one more long ball in the series is irresistible.
Pujols will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, and while he spent much of the second half of his career with the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, his prime years were in St. Louis. The fans who saw his unprecedented greatness from 2001 to 2011 will likely never forget it, and his return and production in 2022 wraps a satisfying bow on his career.
Molina spent his entire career with the Cardinals and ranks fourth all time in games caught. While he might not be inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot because his batting stats are below that of some other Hall of Fame catchers, it’s likely that his enshrinement will eventually be celebrated in Cooperstown as well.
There likely won’t be a dry eye at Busch in the series, but lost among the celebrations is the fact that the Cardinals still have some work to do to prepare for the postseason. The team would love to see if Tyler O’Neill and Jordan Hicks can play in the last few games and show that they can contribute in the playoffs, even if they aren’t at 100%. Another player who should get a longer look is Ben DeLuzio to see whether his speed and defense make him worthy of a postseason roster spot.
All eyes will be on Pujols and Molina during this series, and rightfully so. With the division clinched, it’s time to celebrate the duo’s accomplishments without the burden of must-win games. But be on the lookout for some tough playoff decisions to get sorted out underneath the bittersweet adieus.