A Eulogy (of sorts) for Albert Pujols

The Great Albert Pujols: St. Louis Cardinals 2001-2011.
The Great Albert Pujols: St. Louis Cardinals 2001-2011. | Source

Goodbye Mr. Pujols...

It's not often that I come on Hubpages to rant, so to speak. But the recent free-agent signing of the great Albert Pujols has stoked a place of my heart that will not be sated without therapy. So for all of you with interest in personal opinion only, this is my say, my choice of therapeutic prose.

A bit of my past:

Growing up in St. Louis was a pleasure in many ways. The times were the '70s and '80s and life, although tinged with change, was relatively peaceful. A huge part of my childhood was occupied playing, watching, and just being a fan of the game of baseball. Unless you've experienced the type of relationship a city and widely-spread community can have with a professional sports franchise, you probably won't understand. But in St. Louis, the baseball Cardinals are often spoken of with religious overtones. St. Louisans love baseball and really love their Cardinals. The rich and interwoven history between fan base and team is truly generational. My passion for the game and my beloved Cardinals stems from my mother and grandmother who instilled in me what it really meant to be a baseball fan and a Cardinal fan in particular.

As an aside, all of you in similar cities such as Chicago, Boston, and New York, well... you know what I mean.

The St. Louis Cardinal History is Storied:

Not to dwell too much on the history of the St. Louis Cardinals, but as a franchise, the Cardinals are 2nd only to the New York Yankees in World Series titles with 11 and unsurpassed in the National League as pennant winners. In short, the birds on the bat is an image that can honestly be viewed as iconic. So in keeping with such an iconic existence, it doesn't take long to discern that St. Louis Cardinal baseball fans are truly fanatic. Their knowledge and respect of the game in my opinion is unsurpassed. Cardinal fans, for the most part, are students of the game and appreciate greatness when witnessed. And such greatness, at least in my lifetime, had not been seen in St. Louis for nearly 50 years; the time period between the retirement of the greatest Cardinal of all-time, Stan Musial, following the 1963 season until the arrival of Mr. Albert Pujols in 2001.

When Albert Pujols arrived a new chapter in Cardinals lore began. (Or so we thought...)

Pujols is a marvel to watch play the game. His statistics over the first 11 years of his career are UNMATCHED! When you step back and look at everything he's accomplished in that time and compare to the true greats of the game (names like Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, and even Babe Ruth) he has them ALL BEAT. Albert Pujols, as I've told my children over and over, is truly a ONCE in a generation player at the least. When his career is over and fades into the southern California sunset (God forbid), Pujols may very well be considered the greatest hitter to EVER play the game. Time will tell, however.

This is the type of player Albert Pujols can be. And this is the player who I, in my wildest dreams, never thought would leave the city that so embraced him. If Pujols had retired a Cardinal, his legacy and iconic status would stand in line with the great Musial. That is how much he was revered. But now he is gone. And the vitriolic fallout that has followed is not that surprising.

Baseball fans in St. Louis are a passionate bunch. I consider myself one of them. Albert Pujols clearly established himself as the heir apparent to future Cardinal greatness; leaping over other HOF Cardinal greats such as Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Ozzie Smith -- with NO disrespect to those players. But unlike Pujols, they ALL stayed with the franchise and are to this day cherished treasures of Cardinal nation.

But now Mr. Pujols is gone. Never to be seen in Cardinal red again. There will be no #5 warmly retired among other Cardinal greats of the past. No bronze statue proudly standing outside Busch Stadium. No lifetime of respect for the player or the man. No, no, no... The only stories I can tell my children now are how the lure of money and a supposed lack of respect swooned a prideful heart away from those who would have honored him in his latter playing days and beyond. Yes Mr. Pujols, you sold all of that for a few million; which if adjusted for inflation in the southern California economy is basically a wash.

What a shame! A blinding shame!

A time for Eulogy:

So my question to Albert Pujols (like I even have the opportunity to ask) would be this: "Mr. Pujols, if you clearly stated your desire was to stay in St. Louis, and that your next contract would never be about the money, then why did you bolt your lifelong wedding party for a bridesmaid's role in the smog-infested baseball shell of LA?" Really?

Oh, I almost forgot: one more question. "Mr. Pujols, how long did you really consider what you would leave behind in St. Louis?" Because to me, if your pride is as strong as you say, then NO amount of money could EVER buy the enduring respect and legacy you abandoned. It cannot! But as I previously stated, this is my therapy.

Although he'll more than likely never publicly affirm it, I have my inclinations that Pujols has experienced 2nd thoughts after signing his 10-year, $254M deal. Back in St. Louis people are truly hurt and disappointed. Heck, I haven't lived in St. Louis for nearly 20 years but the effect of Pujols' departure lingers within me.

Pujols' decision has come with varied reaction. Some are behaving in truly childish ways, i.e., burning jerseys and having 3-year-old children breaking Pujols Christmas tree ornaments on You Tube. In the long run, though, this is how many of us who respected you much more as a man than a player feel. There is no doubt in my mind you will immerse yourself into the culture and community of Los Angeles like you did in St. Louis. Your charitable work is beyond what most athletes will ever consider or perform. But as a man, there is something to be said about having the respect of your fellow man. Mr. Pujols, you HAD the unwavering respect of the entire city and community of St. Louis and beyond. Cardinal fans believed you when you said you wanted to be a Cardinal for life. We really did. And now all that is done! The level of respect and admiration you swept to the curbs of St. Louis heading to Los Angeles can NEVER be reclaimed. To me, no amount of money can EVER buy that back.

Good luck in Anaheim, Albert. I will honestly miss you with the birds on the bat! No man, however, is greater than the team. When you begin to decline in production, will the fans in Los Angeles be sympathetic? Especially to the tune of $254M? Maybe, but probably not. Why? Because there is no history between Angels fans and you. In the future, maybe. But to the average Angels fan you're on your honeymoon. You are in a sense a commodity regardless of what Mr-really-nice-owner Arte Moreno told you. Moreno is a businessman and if you believe he won't capitalize many times over by having you as an Angel, then, Mr. Pujols, you are more naive than thought.

The bottom line is this: Albert Pujols, you now wear Angels red because you are the greatest baseball player playing the game today. That will not change at least for now. But you are also a marketing tool for a franchise that pales in comparison to the Cardinals and one that must compete with another baseball franchise in the same city!

I certainly hope Mr. Lozano explained all of this to you before you signed the dotted line. My guess, however? He didn't! The opportunity costs would have been less than career-advancing!

Welcome to the land of sunshine, Albert. Shine as bright and as long as you can.

R (Remain an Angel) I.P.

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Comments 12 comments

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I gave you all the votes on this one. I've been a Cards fan since I was a little girl growing up with three brothers and a dad who listened to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon on the radio every game. My brothers are I enjoyed the World Series together this year! I'm disappointed that Pujols didn't choose to stay and retire in St. Louis. That would have been poetic. I lost sme respect for him when he left. You're right in that he won't go down the same in history with this path he has chosen. The Cardinals, though, are a great franchise, and they will survive without him. They'll fill the hole, but it kinda hurts right now. Well-written hub. Well said. I have a lot of Cardinals fans on my Facebook page. I'm gonna share this one with them and my followers!


marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 4 years ago from Illinois

Hey Rob - I think you did a really good job showing why STL truly is one of the most important baseball cities in America. I think 1120 KMOX is burned into my brain, along with the sound of Jack Buck's voice. These are the things that will live forever and transcend any one man. Probably the hardest part was explaining to my 6 year old daughter why the person she thought was so great wasn't ours anymore. Well, on to spring training and 12 in '12!


Helene jundt 4 years ago

I am the mother Rob spoke of in this amazing hub. It's true he was born a Cardinal fan and will be a fan forever,that's just the way it is. His 2 sons are cardinal fans,pictures of Albert hang on the walls of both boys rooms!They truly loved the guy,now all is gone- Truly hard for kids to understand,however as Rob said the birds on the bat are still flying and will be for.a long time.Thank you rob for this hub page,a lot of cardinal fans feel the same way,you put it all on paper for everyone to enjoy!Proud of you-Mom


seattleamilehigh1 profile image

seattleamilehigh1 4 years ago from Seattle, Washington

Pujols is like a twice a century kind of player. I would group him and Griffey Jr. in the same breath. I know they are not the same players, but it's really hard to argue that one is better than the other.


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 4 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Victoria Lynn,

Thanks for stopping by and being the first to comment on my lament of sorts. As you stated, life for Cardinal Nation will survive without AP. The first year I feel will be almost surreal; at least to me. But after that, the pain and disappointment will be gone. Thanks again for reading. Looking forward to 2012!


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 4 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Married...

Another big thanks for reading! Like you, I had a tough time telling my two boys (who both have AP posters in their rooms) why Pujols is no longer part of the Cardinal family. The sorry part of this whole deal is losing that trace of loyalty that still faintly lingers. Like many others, I thought AP was above the loyalty curve. Obviously I was wrong! 2012 will be odd, but it will be a solid year!


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 4 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Mom,

What a pleasure it is to hear from you here! First off thanks for reading and don't forget to pass along. As I've mentioned in previous comments, the Cardinals will move forward without AP. Who knows? The team might be better without him. Such a prediction, however, is too soon to see clear. It's funny because after AP signed and I told Hayden, he sadly took down his AP poster that had been on his door for over 5 years, rolled it up, and told me to get rid of it. That about sums it up.

Love Rob!


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 4 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Seattle...

Yes, I agree when you say that Pujols is probably a twice in a century talent. I was simply being conservative in my wording. This is what makes his departure so sullen. Because many of us will probably never see the likes of him again. Griffey Jr. was similar. Who knows how good he would have been if he'd taken better care of himself when younger. Anyway, I throw all the other player comparisons such as Arod, Clemens, etc. out the window due to their steroid-using antics. Thanks again for reading and let's just see how soon another Pujols-esque player will arrive. I'm not holding my breath anytime soon, though.


seattleamilehigh1 profile image

seattleamilehigh1 4 years ago from Seattle, Washington

I have a hard time with the steroids era in general, as posted in my blog, but you can't just cut out the ones we know were cheating. What about the ones that got away with it? It'll be interesting to see what baseball does, starting with the next round of HOF ballots


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 4 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Seattle...

I agree. The proof of this has already begun with Mr, McGwire and Mr. Palmeiro especially; 3,000 hits and no HOF! That, too, is a shame. Thanks again for reading and commenting.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this terrific Hub, which I enjoyed reading thoroughly. You wrote:

"Unless you've experienced the type of relationship a city and widely-spread community can have with a professional sports franchise, you probably won't understand."

I understand, brother. I have been a Cubs fan since the days of Ernie, Billy, and Fergie. I understand, even if your team actually wins and mine doesn't. :D

You wrote: "Pujols is a marvel to watch play the game. His statistics over the first 11 years of his career are UNMATCHED!"

Amen! You've got that right.

What a shame.


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 4 years ago from Midwest USA Author

James,

First off, thank you for such a warm and genuine comment. I really appreciate your opinions and words. Your hubs are always refreshing.

As a fan, I guess I'm still waiting for the reinvention of players such as Ernie, Cal, Brett, etc. in today's age. It seems that baseball, and other sports as well, has lost its relationship with its players; indeed a shame. Fearfully, this is a sign of the times that reflects a trend toward the quick, instant gratification common in the latest generations. Isn't is funny how many of us begin to sound like our parents? In any case, I'm still hoping for traits such as loyalty and a sense of historical placement to return. Maybe they will... or not. In the end, AP will earn his money. And hopefully, he will end his career with dignity. I still respect him as a player, always will. As a person who seemed to push aside his words with actions, I'll just have to work on that.

As a Cubs fan, is it safe to say you're happy to see AP gone? After all, he did a lot of damage at Wrigley. I do know that many NL pitchers threw back a few when they heard of his departure to the junior league.

Oh for the longings of the past. Good luck in all you do. As a Cardinals fan who truthfully roots for the Cubs when they are not playing the birds on the bat, I appreciate your passion for your team. With TE in place I feel an upward trend on the south side of Chitown.

Thanks again for reading!

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