Albert Pujols, unplugged

Albert Pujols has obviously done a lot in five years in the big leagues, and he’s established himself as basically the face of the Cardinals franchise. One thing he hasn’t done a lot of over his five-plus years, however, is speak for the team to the media. He’s bright and interesting, but interviews are far from his favorite thing.

The reason I preface this entry with the above is that I think it’s admirable, and a step forward, for Albert to say what he said tonight. He hasn’t often been the guy to step forward and take the heat off his teammates, or to say the hard things that need to be said. That’s not a failure; it doesn’t mean he’s not a leader or that he’s not a bad teammate, but it is something you’d like to see the face of the franchise do. It’s what Jeff Bagwell has done in Houston. It’s what Derek Jeter does for the Yankees.

I asked him after the game how big a deal it was for Jason Isringhausen to come in and nail down the save, and Pujols ran with the question. He took the opportunity to stick up for two of his teammates who have heard it from the fans. Whether or not you think it’s OK to boo these guys, whether or not you were actually booing them, I hope you appreciate Pujols stepping forward and being the leader, being the face, sticking up for his guys. Here’s his answer, unedited, uninterrupted and unaltered, to my question. There were no follow-up questions. This is all one statement from Pujols.


"It’s good. It’s good to see. I told him to relax. It’s a
long season. Everybody goes through some slumps. Same thing with Juan Encarnacion.
I’ve seen these guys for seven years in the league, and they know how to do it.

"For the fans in St. Louis to be
booing Encarnacion, I don’t think that was right. I didn’t say anything the
other day because I respect our fans, but I think that’s not our fans, booing a
player like that. Because he’s trying just as hard as we’re trying to win
games. The thing is, you’re booing a guy right now, but when he gets his
approach, everybody’s going to love him. And I don’t think that’s right.

"I got
really mad at our fans the other day for booing Encarnacion. Because the guy is
frustrated right now. The guy is trying to do as much as he can to help us out
to win, and the last thing you want to do is have our own fans, 45,000 people,
booing a poor guy like that. I know he’s going to get out of his slump.

"Same thing
with Izzy, they were booing him at our place, and I’m telling you, I don’t know
what’s going on with our fans, but I don’t think that’s the right way to
approach it. It’s a long season and that’s why you play 162 games, so you can
make your adjustments. We’ll win some games. That’s the key."

Now playing on the iPod: Better than Ezra, Before the Robots (hi, Erin!)

-M.

17 Comments

I totally agree with him. I’m never a fan who boos because I don’t get that. Thanks for sharing.

Save the boo’s for Halloween. This ain’t Cleveland, in the immortal words of Sam Wyche.

Izzy will be okay and Encarnacion will be, well, he’ll be him.

I’m not a fan, yet, but I ain’t gonna boo the Birds at Busch !

Good for Albert for speaking up !

Great post. Albert has always been a great teammate from what I could tell. I’m glad he has taken the next step as the face and leader of the Redbirds.

Well, the reason you haven’t heard Pujols speak for the team much before is that’s just not Pujols. It’s not the Cardinals, and it’s not what we fans want for our team. We don’t want a talking-head All-Star psychoanalyzing the team or the fans every day after the game for the media or any of that sort of bullhonkery.

We like our baseball to speak for itself. The play on the field says all that needs to be said. You don’t see Cardinals jog to the dugout instead of first base when they ground to second (like Barry Bonds did yesterday), and you don’t see us all cocky and disrespectful of the game and of the other team (like Houston was in Game 4 of the NLCS last year [Albert fixed that, too]).

We are also a team, the fans and the players and the sportscasters and the club. And so, while I feel free to groan and grouse as Izzy struggles and Encarnacion makes a bad first impression, all this booing makes me absolutely sick. Sick, I tell you!

And so, when these dumb, inappropriate voices of disapproval boom up from, of all places, the home field stands, I am thrilled to see Albert stand up and swat them down. I can’t express enough how much I agree with him, and I really hope people are listening and give Izzy and Encarnacion the ovations they deserve when they return, just as we did for the umpires when Jack Buck was so disappointed at us a few years back.

And all of you knee-jerk-reaction, shortsighted naysayers who aren’t even giving the players a chance to shake the offseason cobwebs and settle in to their new Cardinals roles, go boo at the Red Sox or something. Sheesh.

There is no question in my mind that Izzy will return to his old form and save around 40 games again this year. Encarnacion on the other hand has made various fundamental mistakes (and is in a major batting slump) and the fans are showing their disapproval, like it or not. However, in my humble opinion – it is unacceptable to boo and bash these guys because we win as a team or lose as a team period. The problem is when other players from the team have to defend their teammates they become distracted from doing their best in their own roles. I have been to 4 out of the 6 first home games, and their was little booing other than on the blatant error by encarnacion that almost cost the game on Sunday, I even caught myself moaning, but no matter what – from the bleachers people were screaming keep your head up and get ‘em next time. I think this is all being blown out of proportion. You cannot control people or fans – if they’re pissed or aggrevated with a player they will show it. With the ups there are downs people, deal with it.

I was at Sunday’s game where Encarnacion dropped the fly ball and he gave absolutely ZERO effort on that play. While I think that it’s fantastic that Albert is stepping up and being the man that the redbirds need him to be, I really think that it’s up to Encarnacion to live up to the statements that Albert has made. I don’t think I’ve seen much out of Juan that impresses me, so here’s hoping he gets it together soon. If he doesn’t, I’d say that we’ll see Chris Duncan called up and Juan sent down to work on his fundamentals some more.

I remember a few posts back you mentioned that you would like to see Albert not be so serious and really enjoy his accomplishments. (This was after he hit the 1st homerun at Busch and said it wasn’t that important to him.)

When he hit his walkoff homer the other day, at the end of his homerun trot, he did sort of a little dance or something as he jumped onto homeplate and onto his teammates.

So, I was just curious if you saw it and if you were happy to see Pujols enjoying himself a little after such an amazing day?

Tiffany

http://redbirdfever.mlblogs.com/

He is a leader. I love that he stood up for his teammates. He is the total package and we are unbelievably lucky to have him.

Izzy will be fine, IMHO. As for Encarnacion, he is starting to hit a little (6 game hitting streak) but not for power.

You can forget about the Cards sending Encarnacion anywhere. Tony & Walt have repeatedly stated that he is an important part of this team. He will not go to Memphis. He will not be traded. Barring injury or unless he goes 0 for 100, he will play the entire year in St. Louis. Deal with it.

Let me take this a step further. I am disgusted with our fans at times, not only for booing our own guys, but primarily for their conscious effort to TRY TO EMULATE CUBS FANS. If I see one more Cardinals fan throw an opposing team’s home run ball back, I just might vomit. This is what Cubs fans do. We are NOT Cubs fans. We are better than that. Be classy.

And on a brighter note. I’ll be honest. How lucky are we to watch one of baseball’s greatest players every day in St. Louis? I just can’t get over that. We’ll tell our kids and grandkids someday how we were blessed to enjoy the legend of Pujols during his career. Watch a Cardinals game and witness history. God bless him and God bless the Cards.

Encarnacion deserves to be booed for the effort he is giving this team. Fundamentally he is mailing it in. I am not just talking about almost blowing the game with his outfield play on Sunday. I am talking about on every at bat he is going up there slapping at the ball and rolling his top hand over. These are things that are corrected at the batting tee and in the cage. Dang it Jaun, stay inside the ball and drive it somewhere.

I tend to agree that Izzy should be given a break based on his past accomplishments. However, I’m sorry Albert. I love ya, but Encarnacion has earned it. He has been plain awful in all aspects and I along with others have questioned his effort on more than one play so far in the early going. Even the slightest hint of being lazy will draw the ire of most fans anywhere, but it’s especially unacceptable for a player in St. Louis. It’s one thing to get off to a slow start at the plate, but he’s been less than major league caliber in the field and running the bases as well. The boo-birds won’t help JuanE’s play, but like it or not, he’s earned them so far.

I completely agree with Pujols, it is sickening to hear Cardinals fans, heralded as the best fans in baseball, actually BOOING their own players! It’s disgusting and distasteful, and if they keep it up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pujols go play somewhere else where fans respect their players after his current contract expires. WE NEED TO GET PUJOLS’ COMMENTS EVEN BIGGER COVERAGE IN THE PRESS SO THIS STOPS!

I think Cardinal fans give players their due better than any fans in baseball. They give standing ovations and curtain calls when players deserve it, they show appreciation for opposing player performances when warranted, and they boo particulary poor play when waranted as well. So this “Let’s all get happy” talk is a bit ridiculous, I think. Cardinal fans are not Philly or Boston fans and to make the comparison is over the top. Cardinals fans are more than fair.

On another note, I hate to be nitpicking with Albert here…but can he start putting his head down and running around the bases like Rolen?
You shouldn’t be flipping your bat 20 feet in the air when your team is getting dominated…you are asking to get you or a teammate thrown at.

alex-we aren’t the best fans in baseball, we are the smartest fans in baseball. i could care less if we are called the best fans in baseball. if i see a player with bad habits that are a result of poor practice or lack of effort, that player is going to get it from me.

So what, Albert flipped his bat high in the air one time in his career. He got angry. There has been bad blood between Pittsburgh and St. Louis the past couple years, so it’s really no surprise. I don’t think this will be a common thing for Pujols. I just hope my 4 year old son grows up to respect the game as much as Pujols. Check out my blog, “Keep It Real” at blogger.com

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