Adam on the Eve (of baseball’s opener)

When I think of pitcher Adam Wainwright, I think of joy.

I see the elegant curveball that buckled the knees of then-New York Met Carlos Beltran, closing out the 2006 pennant for the St. Louis Cardinals. I see Wainwright raising his arms in jubilation after striking out Brandon Inge to win the ’06 World Series.

I see a man who takes the mound every fifth day and owns it.

This is why I don’t mind St. Louis’ tendering him a five-year contract extension last week for $97.5 million.

Wainwright exudes class.

I can’t imagine the agony associated with missing the entire 2011 season, which the Cardinals capped with a WS title. Yet, there was Wainwright, sidelined with Tommy John surgery, cheering on his teammates day after day from the dugout’s top step.

He is a mentor. He defers praise and accepts blame. He plays a child’s game with boyish enthusiasm.

Wainwright is what’s right about baseball.

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