I’ve been meaning to write an Albert Pujols article for my own website. Since this website covers the Cardinals I figure I might as well use it as my weekly Royals column here at I70 Baseball. How does that work if this is supposed to be a Royals column? I’ll get there.
I am a Royals fan first. After that I am a baseball fan. I have enjoyed Pujols’ career from a distance. I remember when Mike MacDougal caught Pujols looking for a strike out with a sweeping 12-6 curveball to end a game in 2003. I remember his blast off Brad Lidge in the 2005 NLCS. Most recently; his three home-run game in Arlington in the 2011 World Series. My favorite Pujols story is how he came into the league. Some have criticized the Royals for letting Pujols out of their back yard. I think that’s a little unfair. After all, how many other teams passed up the opportunity to draft him? I especially like this story from Jonah Keri’s book The Extra 2% about Fernado Arango, the area scout for the Tampa Bay Rays who tried to get the Rays to draft Pujols. I wonder if Fernando Arango and Sir Albert touched base after he signed his deal.
Not living in St Louis I never heard about him off the field. As I read Cardinal fan reaction he must have been much more than a performer on the field. There wouldn’t be such a reaction to his departure to the Anaheim Angels if there wasn’t. I was disappointed to see Pujols sign with the Angels. Mostly because I thought it would have been cool to see a super-star play with one team his entire career. I get that it’s a business decision. I get that the weather is nicer in Southern California. I get that he was some how offended by the Cardinals front office. I get all that. But, the fans in Anaheim will not love you the way fans in St Louis did. How much money do you really need? With Pujols’ current salary you can afford to live any where anyway. Not many people have been in the Pujols Family’s situation so we cannot say for sure how we would make such a decision. I just know that looking at things the way I look at things I would have chosen to stay in St Louis.
Royals fans should take note of this situation. The Royals don’t have a good track record of hanging on to their big time free agents. Like I’ve said before, there are only a handful of teams that don’t have this problem. Royals fans can only hope there will come a day when one (more than one would be outstanding) of the Royals young stars has played well enough year, after year to warrant a $200 Million contact to finish out their career. Rest assured if the Royals ever have a Pujols Situation; that players is signing that big contract only to return to Kauffman Stadium (or Tightwad Bank Stadium if you believe rumors started by bloggers. wink, wink) as an opponent worthy of our boooing and being called a greedy money grubber on Kansas City’s fine Sports Talkosphere. It’ll sting a little. I might be upset for a few days. However, if such a player left after 7 play-off appearances, 5 ALCS appearances, and 2 World Series Titles they will have left this Royals fan with a smile. After all, players come and go; only the name on the front of the jersey remains year, after year, after year.