Many Thoughts, Many Emotions About Albert

We’ve felt the entire gamut of emotions since hearing the news yesterday morning that Albert Pujols was not returning to the Cardinals and instead joining the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

(By the way, I still don’t get that name. Anaheim is Anaheim — I’ve been there, and it was quite the trek by airport shuttle from LAX, so it’s certainly not Los Angeles. And Anaheim Angels was such a simple, alliterative, unconfusing name. Right?)

Anyway, we have many thoughts about Albert. We invite you to share your sentiments on him as well.


Miranda

No matter how much I didn’t want this day to happen, it has. Albert is no longer a Cardinal. It is painful to even type that sentence. Despite telling us of his desire to be like Stan Musial and be a Cardinal for life, Albert proved he is pretty human and took the money and ran.

Offering a 32-year-old a 10 year contract for that much money is pretty crazy in my opinion. Especially when that guy had the year Albert started out with this season. Remember that? It wasn’t pretty. But he did turn it around and was the guy who his three homers in Game Three of the World Series. He is Albert. There is no replacing him. His presence on this team. His leadership with the Latino players. His bromance with Yadi. The way he can look at Brad Lidge and make him tremble.

Speaking of Lidge, I obviously have a favorite Albert moment. The mammoth blast off the choo-choo train in the 2005 NLCS to take the series back to Busch. Before the homer, I said Albert was about to do something special. I could feel it. And boy, did he! That homer ranks high on top homers for me.

Now that he’s gone, I hope he’s as successful as he can be there.

As for the Cardinals, they will be fine. Think of how much money this opens up. There is so much potential! I’m excited and look for this offseason to continue to be entertaining.


Tara

I went to bed Wednesday night feeling better than I had in three days. I woke up to news that made me feel worse than I had about the Cardinals since Aug. 24th. We all knew losing Albert Pujols to free agency was a possibility. And, in fact, I was resigned to that early in the season. But to see it in writing — official writing, not rumors — was painful.

In the years I’ve actually paid attention to the Cardinals personnel (not just, “Daddy, did they win?”), Pujols has always been there. No. 5 is a part of every single Cardinals memory I have. As much as I know this was a good decision on the part of the Cardinals, there’s a pit in my stomach thinking of Albert in anything other than the Birds on the Bat.

It’s hard when your childhood hero lets you down. I know, I know. It’s a business. He had every right to take the money offered. He’s earned it. But I’m a dreamer. I believe in fairy tale endings. And there was a part of me (bigger than I wanted to admit) that believed Albert Pujols was different — a worthy hero.

Now, there are probably other players I love more. Adam Wainwright, Skip Schumaker, David Freese. Who am I kidding, I love them all! But in my mind, Pujols has always been the centerpiece of the team I love and the weapon we could claim, the legend St. Louis produced. And just like that, he’s gone. And we’re left with nearly as many questions as we had before.

I love this team. I’m sad Albert doesn’t understand what he’s walking away from. If he did, he wouldn’t be walking away. But, the team still stands strong. John Mozeliak did his job, and will continue to do so. The 2012 season still looks promising. So, my heart may take some time to heal from watching my first real Cardinal hero make a new life on west coast, but I promise, I’ll be ready. The first game sans-Pujols may be hard to swallow, but I’ll be cheering as loud and strong as ever.

Let the post-Pujols era begin.


Chris

What’s it like to be Albert, to make a decision like this — what’s the thought process you go through? I’m trying to imagine it. Not having much athletic ability (my time playing softball was short and not sweet), it’s not easy. I have no clue what it’s like to excel as he has. But, when making a life decision, wouldn’t you consider what you had already?

Albert had to think about his 11 years in St. Louis, right? Think deeply about the seven trips to the playoffs, five times in the NLCS, three World Series appearances and two times winning it all? About the fans in St. Louis — everyone lining the streets for those two World Series parades, the thousands of jerseys and t-shirts with his name and No. 5 on the back? All the adulation, all the devotion, even all the money spent at his restaurant? About all the experiences unique to Cardinals baseball alone — that sea of red in Busch Stadium game after game, Opening Day, the Clydesdales, the appearances by the Hall of Famers and most especially Stan the Man? He had to think about Stan, right? I mean, seriously, how could he not think about what he had, what it meant to be a Cardinal, before choosing what we wanted?

And, with all that history and everything he accomplished and a city and fan base who adored him, he said, “The Angels are the ones tugging on my heart.”

Since I’m me and not Albert, there are a lot of things I don’t understand about making such a life decision. That kind of ego, that kind of pride, that kind of (what to seems to me, at least) greed are all totally foreign. So I’m not going to judge him. He’s made his decision — that was his whole point of becoming a free agent, to see just who wanted him.

But it definitely changes my opinion about the last 11 years. Yes, I appreciate what he did. But — as I read many times yesterday — I’m a fan of what’s on the front of those classic white jerseys. The Birds on the Bat are what have my heart, not a name and number on the back.

Thanks for all you did while wearing the Cardinals uniform, Albert.

It’s hugely disappointing that somehow the chance to continue doing all of that and getting paid well for it wasn’t enough.

4 thoughts on “Many Thoughts, Many Emotions About Albert

  1. Actually, I’m fine with the way things played out. Maybe it’s because over 33 years of being a Cardinals fan I’ve seen my favorites play then leave. Maybe it’s because I don’t begrudge one little bit a ballplayer seeking a better opportunity. Sure, he wanted to be a Cardinal for life, but in the end, the Cardinals didn’t have the resources the Angels did to make that happen.

    Albert is a true Hall of Famer, but when you’ve watched as Ted Simmons, Keith Hernandez, Ken Oberkfell, George Hendrick, Bruce Sutter, Jack Clark, Tommy Herr, Joaquin Andujar, Willie McGee, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and countless others you’ve rooted for over the years eventually depart, you do get used to it.

    I’m very glad the Cardinals got the services of Albert for 11 great years. I’m relieved their not going to be hamstrung by the declining years, where we watch as he grounds into double play after double play as the team pays him a contract that makes Soriano’s seem reasonable by comparison.

  2. Ok, made some notes about this while I was at work so I could remember everything I wanted to say.

    First, I’m not mad at him for leaving for a bigger opportunity (in monetary figures anyway). I know over the last 11 years, I witnessed something special while watching him play. I may never see anyone like that play for the Cardinals again in my lifetime. You never know who will come next, but there’s no way to discount or understate how great of player he has been. I do, however, feel that disappointment that so many are feeling. I understand, “baseball is a business” and I know (now, in hindsight) that it was incredibly naive of me to believe he would be different.

    The disappointment comes from the fact that our believing in him was due in such large part to his own comments time and time again. He wants to be a Cardinal for life. It’s not about making a few more millions. Ok, he’s saying the things that the fans want to hear. Say it differently then. “I love the city of St. Louis and the fans that come out to the ballpark.” There. You’ve expressed your appreciation without making statements that will later give people reason to criticize you. If you’re not going to take Lance Berkman’s honestly route when making comments about money, don’t make comments at all.

    Tara listed different analogies and metaphors in her post yesterday. One I keep thinking of is a boyfriend telling you repeatedly he wants to marry you, make a lifetime commitment to you, and the they day you think you’re getting that engagement ring, he dumps you instead. Maybe it’s melodramatic, but in my mind it fits.

    The “Angels are the ones tugging at my heart” comment confuses me. What kind of ties does he have in Anaheim? Are there any? It would make more sense to me if he had a home, family, charity, restaurant, personal relationships with the community there. I could understand and empathize with it. Maybe he has ties there that I’m not familiar with. I don’t claim to know him or know everything about him. I’ll just say that if a personal phone call from Stan doesn’t tug at your heart, I’d like to know what other than the number tugged at it in Anaheim.

    I am relieved it’s over. I’m relieved we don’t have to drag out the uncertainty any longer. I’m also relieved that the organization doesn’t massive amounts of money wrapped up in a contract that may have hurt the TEAM. I would have been ok with the contract if he’d stayed, I wanted him in that uniform, but I’m not bothered that it’s off the books now. I’ve read he supposedly has a chip on his shoulder with the organization for how they handled negotiations with him not just this year but in the past as well. I don’t know if it’s true or why he would. I get that we’ll never know exactly what happened behind closed doors, but I stand behind the organization. In my mind, they offered him as fair of a contract as what they could while still trying to meet his requests, even if it wasn’t necessarily going to be best for the club. He knew their realistic limits. They surpassed their limits in my mind. He chose different, and that’s fine. I’ve only seen one person in my Twitter (aside from other athletes who are looking to get paid) who feels like the organization didn’t do enough to keep him in St. Louis. I think that’s pretty telling.

    I think he and his people know how this looks. There’s been a lot of PR spin. The ad in the P-D today for example. To me, it feels more like something of an obligation than an actual sincere gesture. Maybe I’m just cynical about his words now, but I think those full page ads like that from anyone don’t ever really come across genuine. Although, Ankiel’s this year was touching, and I think that was because it wasn’t something published as he was departing, but as he was making a return with another team to the city who embraced him.

    And now that I’ve written what would qualify as a short essay if I were still in college, I’ll wrap it up. I’ve been a Cardinal fan for my entire life, even when I didn’t care about baseball, and I will continue to be a Cardinal fan. Like so many, including Chris, have said–the name on the front is bigger than the name on the back. I think that, even without that special future HOFer first baseman, the 2012 team and the farm system to build the future are strong. I’m excited to see what they will do, and I’m eagerly looking forward to being back at Busch Stadium on April 13th to continue to cheer for them as I have always done.

    • Nice perspective!
      I like what you are saying especially about the PR spin game Albert obviously has going. Yes, putting that in the paper today is … forced feeling. Not sincere like Rick Ankiel.
      I just feel different about this guy now. I wish him well and thank him for the memories. It’s just different now. Kind of tainted!
      The Cardinals are what matters most and I think they are going to be just fine!

  3. Albert Pujols – A Eulogy of Sorts

    The air is thick with emotion in Cardinal Nation as we watch one of our most beloved heroes walk away from a city we never thought you would leave. We witnessed a rookie do things that seemed inhuman. We fell in love with that mechanical batting stance and flawless swing. We watched in awe as you sent balls blazing off of your bat unbiased to all parts of the field. We watched an entire generation of future hall of famers fall to the wayside through scandal and steroids while you emerged as a beacon of hope for the entire baseball world. We became accustomed to hearing “the first player in the history of baseball to accomplish….” when your name entered a conversation. Most importantly we wore the Birds on a Bat alongside you.

    During your tenure we transitioned from an old Busch Stadium that held so many memories for Cardinal Legends such as Gibson, Musial, and Brock to a new Busch Stadium whose only Cardinal Legend is you. During your tenure no team has made more appearances in the World Series than the Cardinals. During your tenure no team has won more World Series rings than the Cardinals. During your tenure no team has had more MVP winners than the Cardinals. During your tenure no city has had a greater player and contributor to society than has St Louis.

    As we move forward there will be moments of collective sadness as we watch you break records and reach milestones, that only a few have reached, in a uniform other than the Cardinals. There will be sadness when we see the highlights of your perfect swing crushing baseballs into Disneyland. In the end, though, there will be a reunion that only Cardinals fans will be able to appreciate as we see that #5 hoisted up and placed between that #2 and #6 above the right-centerfield wall of the stadium that you made “yours”. There will be cheering when your plaque is enshrined on the walls of Cooperstown wearing a hat with the STL insignia. When you take off your new uniform and put your bat away for the last time there will be forgiveness and Cardinal Nation will be yours.

    To quote Neil Young “The king is gone but not forgotten”.

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