ALBERT

by JoeYancey

First-ballot Hall of Famer and All-World legend, Albert Pujols being released by the Angels brought about many thoughts and questions. We will dive into all of those now. I will spare you my emotional baggage, and the piercing pain in my heart that has never healed since Al vanished from St. Louis into the L.A. dust. Precursor – I FUCKING LOVE ALBERT AND EVERYTHING THAT HE IS. SO, buckle up…

  • Designating a HOF’er for assignment is a cut. Just waive the guy, will ya?
  • I can’t not mention what I thought at the time, and still do think, is one of the worst contracts in MLB history, despite my love for Albert.
  • How hurtful must this be for a competitor like Albert? Maybe there are some pacts and incentives built into finishing the contract, but if not, let the guy finish the tenth year.
  • Did he “sell his soul?” (St. Louis talk) – Did the Cardinals recognize a breaking down, aging superstar that would have crippled the STL franchise, that many think slowed the Angels’ franchise, and more so, the prime of Mike Trout?
  • What is left for Albert to do in this league, outside of individual accolades?
  • Does anyone want him, and if so, what does he have to offer?
  • What will his legacy be?
  • The timing for “assignment” is strange. This feels like beating up your Grandpa. You knew what you had with Albert walking into the season. A hobbled, older fellow with a great batting eye, but had been through the wars, maybe could compete; but certainly, was not the guy on the Main Card. Let us not be foolish. I am confident this was difficult from a PR standpoint, and just having this conversation with such an exceptional human, could not have been easy. I would have held out until season’s end or pulled the trigger at the end of 2020, but hey that’s just me, so here we are. Reason 7,839 the Angels are not the Dodgers.
  • The 10-year contract was bad from the beginning. We all knew it. While most locals (St. Louisans) were setting fires, and pissing on Albert statues, I knew Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and a host of others could not be signed, unless ways were parted. That depth is how the Cardinals have reached the postseason more than any other club since 1950 (yes that includes the Yankees,) including 14 of the last 15 seasons. This is not to say he wasn’t worth it, but to say a decade-long deal for a guy 11 years into a career, is likely a loser. Be better.
  • I do not know how Albert feels about the news, but to only say I hope the front office sat down with him and explained in detail why it is important to get this team off the mat, and let the younger guys in the lineup that are more effective. My assumption is diplomacy was King, and discussions were had prior to. The Angels may have possibly given him the option to retire first. That is usually how these things go, with respectful organizations. There is no indication the Angels are not that.
  • Was leaving St. Louis a bad idea? Absolutely not. St. Louis, MO sucks. Trust me. I live here. Pujols had done all he could in this town. 2 titles, 3 MVPs, 9 All-Star Games, 2 Gold Gloves, and 6 Silver Sluggers. Mix in a batting title and 2 home run championships. Albert and his wife, Deidre invested tons of time and money into the community and launched several programs in St. Louis. There really was not much left to do here. TAKE THE MONEY! There is also the obvious: Do you want to spend your off days and downtime in St. Louis or Los Angeles? Do you want to beat your body down, play the field, or just get paid to hack? I get it, Albert. I promise I do. I hope others do too.
  • I am speaking directly to El’ Hombre now: What’s left? Show up for a team and contribute. If anyone can, pending health, it’s you, my man. A true competitor will not allow his career to end on a season batting average of .198. I know you won’t. I imagine the family wants you home, and probably asks questions like, “why?” Because you are a competitor, of the highest degree. A champion of the worst kind. A soldier from the most dangerous unit. A winner. I would be shattered if you retire on this note. You can play anywhere. I don’t care. If you go to the St. Paul Saints, I will watch. I promise.
  • The early word is interest is low. Once officially released, the weight of the contract is void, thus interest should increase, if for no other reason, to maybe sell more tickets. The assumption is those close to him, will at minimum, reach out to his agent; including the likes of Chicago (White Sox), Kansas City, and St. Louis. An American League team makes sense more than a National League option, for obvious reasons. There is no bigger fan than Tony Larussa in Chicago, and Mike Matheny in Kansas City has a strong affinity for Albert as well. Unfortunately for St. Louis, a return does not seem likely. If Albert would consider a low-gross contract and bench time, then yes. Otherwise, how could one sit Paul Goldschmidt over Albert Pujols? You just can’t do it. Especially when the Cardinals are in first place. Other suitors will surface after the official release. It is possible the Angels wanted to option Albert earlier and could not until the Minor Leagues were operational again. I don’t think Albert’s pride would allow it, thus the release.
  • What is the legacy? For me personally, Albert Pujols is one of the top 3 hitters I’ve seen in my lifetime, also coincidentally, one of my top 3 favorite players. That lists consists of Albert Pujols, Tony Gwynn, and Barry Bonds. Albert put a town on his back. Baseball’s heartland will forever be grateful. No matter what happens from here.

Albert is going to finish his career with 3,205 + hits, 450 + doubles, 2,100 + RBI, 1,850 + runs, 100 + SB, .900 + OPS, .290 + BA. Have you ever seen someone genuinely have that much fun, while absolutely slaying an entire league? I am lucky to say, I saw most of it in my hometown, and most of that, in person. An exceptional career for an exceptional Human Being, no matter where it ends. Best wishes El’ Hombre. #LEGEND

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