It’s entirely possible that the first thing Albert Pujols thinks of when he wakes up in the morning isn’t the circumstances surrounding his departure from St. Louis. For instance, he might be thinking about the circumstances surrounding Josh Hamilton’s departure from Texas. Either way, Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi would rather badger the Angels veteran first baseman about his ties to St. Louis than ask a truly provocative question (eg. “whose contract is more onerous, yours or Hamilton’s?”)
“There’s nothing bitter about it,” he said. “It’s tough that it didn’t work out. It happens. I wasn’t the first one it happens to do. It happened to Miguel Cabrera. It happened to Alex Rodriguez. It happened to Ken Griffey Jr. It happens to many players who play this game: At some time, they move along.
“I think the only thing I’m bitter about is the way the front office handled it a little bit. I think they should have handled it a little better. I’m bitter about that. They tried to make me look like I was a bad guy. But that’s OK. I’m a big boy. Besides that, I also understand there’s nothing I can do. Even if I could take it back, I’m happy where I am right now. My goal is to focus and concentrate on what I need to do to help this ballclub win.”
So what, exactly, did the Cardinals’ front office do?
“It’s something I don’t want to talk about,” he said. “They know what they did. I don’t need to talk about that.”
See? It’s complicated. One moment, Pujols says it is “tough” that he didn’t remain with the Cardinals. The next, his words recall the resentment his wife, Deidre, expressed when she told a St. Louis-area radio station that the team’s initial five-year offer (for more than $100 million) was an “insult.”
Pujols and the Cardinals must reconcile in time, because that is the only sensible path for either party. The Cardinals honor their heritage as well as any organization in baseball, with 90-year-old Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst a fixture in spring training to this day. A generation from now, the Cardinals will want Pujols to be at Busch Stadium for retellings of the ’06 and ’11 titles. And Pujols will realize soon — if he hasn’t already — that the ovations for him in Anaheim won’t be as heartfelt as they were in St. Louis.
Well, yeah. He hasn’t won anything in Anaheim. And who can really say if the Cards will be fixated on reconciling with Pujols in 20 years? Maybe they’ll be under different ownership and far too focused on building a statue to commemorate the achievements of Mike Trout (acquired as a free agent several years earlier).