COMMENTARY | Albert Pujols will do something this week he has never done in his career - he will take the field in a game featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and he will be in a different uniform. The Los Angeles Angels will play host to the Cardinals in interleague play and the situation has stirred up old feelings between fans and Pujols.
It has been well documented that Pujols has maintained a home and a presence in St. Louis. He credits the town, the team, and the fans for making him the man that he is. The messy divorce between Pujols and the team played out in the media and the public eye and has left a lot of fans with a bitter taste in their mouths towards the one-time favorite son of the team.
The business of baseball destroyed the relationship between Pujols and Cardinal fans.
Pujols ultimately left for more money, a longer contract, and what he and his family deemed as "respect". It got messy when he and his wife started openly discussing the feeling of respect involved in the negotiations. When the dust settled, however, Pujols did nothing worse than players such as Lance Berkman and Edgar Renteria did - he left because another team offered him a more lucrative contract.
Albert Pujols will ultimately be remembered as a Cardinal
Pujols will hit some historic statistical marks while wearing an Angels uniform, there is no doubt in that. In the very near future, he will hit his 500th home run, for example. That being said, Pujols entertained St. Louis fans with 445 of those home runs in the first 11 years of his major-league career. When the final curtain is pulled on Pujols' career, it will be his time in St. Louis that built the foundation of a path to Cooperstown and his time with the Angels that was simply polishing off his already impressive numbers.
Those 11 years were the best ever in a Cardinal uniform
The resume that Pujols built in St. Louis was the most impressive in the history of the game. He would compile an award list that began with his Rookie of the Year honors and be capitalized by three Most Valuable Player awards. Mixed in with those were two gold gloves, six silver sluggers, one batting title, two home run titles and nine all-star selections. Ultimately, many were ready to crown him the greatest Cardinal of all time until he departed, ensuring that Stan Musial would forever remain that man.
Albert Pujols was, for a large portion of fans, the greatest player they ever witnessed wearing the St. Louis Cardinals' uniform. He brought a persona to the baseball field that many had never encountered before and have yet to since. He was the guy that stepped to the plate and fans knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that something special was about to happen.
The sight of Pujols will send a rumble of reaction through Cardinal Nation this week. Many fans will boo at their televisions. Some will remain indifferent. Some will choose to acknowledge what he did for them and their favorite team for more than a decade.
Pujols deserves the respect of Cardinal fans for 11 amazing seasons.
Those seasons far outweigh the one bad decision.
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