Albert Pujols was the topic de jour on ESPN last week when the World Wide Leader wasn’t pumping its NBA playoff schedule. His season will continue to be a national story all season long as it either continues to devolve into his worst ever or resurrects itself into something that approaches being worth 24 million dollars.
Last Friday Mr. Pujols was 0-4 and after his last at bat he was booed by several thousand Angels fans in attendance witnessing his startling fall from super-duper stardom in person.
This set into motion a chain of events: a racking of the brain by Cardinal fans to recall a time where Pujols was booed in St. Louis, a ‘mental health day’ for Pujols on Saturday where he didn’t play and eventually his first home run as an Angel on Sunday.
Pujols refused a curtain call. Publically because he wanted to concerntrate on the game. Privately because he knew it was mocking him and his season thus far.
No one can speak for Pujols and tell us for sure he regrets his move, but I think it’s fair to say that he’s experiencing the difference between St. Louis and Los Angeles.
To wit: Cheryl Marie McCarter Trotter, 61, of Hannibal Mo.
Ms. McCarter passed away the same day that Pujols was riding the pine for the Angels. And in her obituary published yesterday her interests not only named the St. Louis Cardinals as one of her passions, but it also singled out Yadier Molina by name as her favorite player.
Perhaps in her last days she took some solace in the fact that Molina had recently re-upped with the Cardinals?
Ms. McCarter's last remembrance in the paper, though, is a very recent and not so uncommon occurrence in St. Louis. Generations of Cardinal fans grow up and move on from this life with a passion for baseball.
In fact, the best part about being a Cardinal fan, without question, is that you can have a conversation with a 10 year old or a 90 year old about the Cardinals that isn’t just superfluous pleasantries… it’s an actual meaningful conversation with points and counter points.
It’s the connective tissue that binds a city.
Mr. Pujols is now in the midst of his choice to extract himself from this phenomena. And while the passion is sometimes an inconvenience for Cardinal greats, the benefits far outweigh the detriments.
I have no doubt that sometime in the next 25 years Albert will come back to St. Louis and he’ll be treated with a respect and admiration that he doesn’t probably deserve from Cardinal fans. He’ll most likely have his number retired and the remembrances of his Cardinal days restored to Busch Stadium. If I had a dollar to bet, he’d probably say something about being happy to be back with the best fans in baseball.
You know what, he’s probably right.
He’s now experiencing life in real life. And that’s not as pleasant as the insular world we provide for the basballing men of St. Louis. There’s a huge difference in being in the obit and writing your own.
Let’s just hope the money still will be worth it to him down the road.