No, the lie I’m referring to is not the one Max Kellerman spouted to win a fake debate on ESPN. I’m talking about the one St. Louis supporters wholeheartedly believe: If Pujols doesn’t leave the shadow of the Arch, the second half of his career plays out better.
If he wasn’t toiling away in LA as an attraction akin to Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, he would’ve been a cornerstone in a lineup and maybe could’ve pushed brought one or two more titles to the Red Birds. I know I thought that during the 2013 World Series, and I still sort of hold it against him.
Much to my surprise, I’m enamored with the show Albert is putting on for the fan base that adores and instinctively defends him. It’s almost validation that if he had stuck around and accepted less money, his numbers might not have fallen off as much, his importance to the game wouldn’t have waned, and he would’ve reached greater milestones, and won more championships.
That was never going to be the case, and I’m glad I didn’t have to watch his bat slow down or the injuries pile up. The Angels didn’t save Cards fanatics from watching Pujols deteriorate as much as they preserved the MVP player that St. Louis remembers him as.
Heading into this year, I was as nervous as anyone at the prospect of watching a severely washed Pujols tarnish the version of him that was my favorite player.
What he’s doing is surreal, and these aren’t ho-hum home runs that come when the game is out of reach. I know you just want to see the highlight, and it’s coming, but I’m going to set it up real quick. Down two to the Reds in the bottom of the sixth with one on and one out, Pujols squared up the first pitch he saw, and, well, you know what happened.
St. Louis went on to win, 6-5. Yup, that’s the Albert I know and love.