October 31, 2011
*Possible farewell, that is. Albert Pujols(notes), for those so overjoyed by the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series that they have forgotten, will be a free agent this offseason. However, as of Sunday afternoon when Team Fredbird celebrated its 11th championship with a parade through St. Louis and a rally at Busch Stadium, "The Machine" was still a part of the club. Batting coach Mark McGwire wanted to make sure and capture the moment for prosperity. And with an iPad. Impressive. Most impressive.
[Slideshow: Cardinals' World Series victory parade]
As for 2012 and beyond, well, who knows? At some point in the celebration, someone asked Pujols, "Can we do this again next year?"
"Hey, why not?" he said, and the adoring masses cheered and the wait began.
Money, of course, is why not. Negotiations officially start Thursday. What is the gut feeling of retiring Cardinals manager Tony La Russa? Is Albert staying or is he going? Scott Miller of CBS Sports' Eye on Baseball was among those who asked TLR the question.
"No," he said when asked whether he could imagine a Cardinals world without Pujols. "No. I mean, I know it's a great organization, he's a great player, and part of [the Cardinals'] greatness is in their conscience, their intelligence, and they're going to try to try like heck to make it work.
"We never talked about it. The season is over. Now it's time to start talking about it. They're going to try and make it work, and we'll see if it can work out or not."
Prediction: Pujols stays, and they'll erect a statue of him right alongside that of Stan Musial one day outside Busch Stadium.
SPEAKING of statues, even if Pujols bolts for Chicago, Texas, Washington, San Francisco or wherever, his permanent image will remain in Greater St. Louis. An anonymous donor paid for the sculpting of a 10-foot-tall bronze statue of A-Pu, which is to be unveiled Wednesday outside of Albert's pub, the Pujols 5 restaurant, in a St. Louis suburb. So, why not something closer to Busch Stadium?
"Albert doesn't want to put anything at the stadium until he goes into the Hall of Fame," explains sculptor Harry Weber, who crafted those statues outside Busch as well as the one of Albert.
O RLY, Albert? The Hall of Fame? A little presumptuous, no? Well, no. He could quit tomorrow and get into Cooperstown. But Pujols probably has at least one more contract left in him. The question remains: Where will he sign it?
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