ORANGE COUNTY, CA - This is not the way it’s supposed to be. It really isn’t. Albert Pujols is not supposed to be the enemy any more than Carlos Beltran is supposed to be the hero.
Albert’s a Cardinal, isn’t he?
No, of course, he’s not. Blame economics. Blame the market. Blame capitalism. Blame whomever and whatever you’d like. But the sad reality is teams and, thus, fans cannot get used to the same players for an extended period of time unless a truly unusual circumstance occurs.
I mean, why on earth would a team want to rid themselves of a player who never hit lower than .312, never hit fewer than 32 home runs and won three MVP awards? There’s only one reason that could happen.
Money. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of money.
I was happy to hear Pujols tell Fox Sports this week he’s still bitter about the way he departed St. Louis two offseasons ago. That means he still thinks about it. That means - to me - he still wishes he was a Cardinal.
Forget the fact the Angels have struggled mightily the last year and a half and the Cards have prospered. Forget the fact every single human being with an opinion believes the Redbirds are a much better organization without Pujols than with him.
One of the greatest players in franchise history just shouldn’t up and leave right smack in the middle of his career. Where are the days when players became synonymous with a team and its city? Where are the days when fans could count on seeing (fill in the player) put on the uniform years down the road despite what his contract says?
That’s how baseball - and sports, for that matter - should be. Albert Pujols should be a Cardinal. He came up as one. He broke into the league and took it by storm as one. He made his mark as one.
And now, what? He wears another uniform because that team is owned by a guy with bigger pockets? That’s just not right.
When Albert Pujols steps up to the plate and taps Yadier Molina’s shin guards Tuesday evening it’s going to be a sad moment for me. It will signify the way baseball has changed over the last couple decades.
Great players don’t get to stay in one spot for too long because of money.
And that’s a shame.