Pujols As Petulant As Anyone, Just Smarter About It
By: Big Rygg
Here’s fair warning, and you’ll already know the result here before you finish reading, but this blog could go one of two ways. It might be a three paragraph post just to prove my point, or it could quite easily balloon into a marathon of topics that cover the enormity of what’s gone on in the Brewers’ world since the Brewer Nation’s interview of Brooks Hall.
So like I said, you’ll know just by scrolling down and seeing how long this post is, but I’m about to find out as I type. So…let’s get to the discovery portion of our show…
Tonight, I went to Miller Park expecting to see the Milwaukee Brewers defeat the St. Louis Cardinals. Some people might say that my expectations were the stuff of folly, especially since the redbirds hung a blown save on Trevor Hoffman (only his third of the year) en route to handing the Brewers their 72nd loss of the year (which matches last season’s total, coincidentally).
Anyway, as I sat in Section 415 looking down upon the field, I saw my favorite pitcher of all time (yes, John Smoltz) give up three runs in the first two innings. Having hit him well in St. Louis a few days ago, it was encouraging to see the Brewers get off to a good start tonight. Alas, ‘twould not hold up this evening. As I mentioned above, Hoffman was touched up for just his second home run of the year when Matt Holliday dented the batter’s eye by sending a good pitch from Hoffman deep.
Here’s where we get to the point of the title of this post. Prior to Holliday’s at-bat, with the Brewers clinging to a one-run lead, Albert Pujols drew a five-pitch walk. (Side note: By this point I was down in the 9th row of Section 115 courtesy of a couple of friends that left early and handed off their duckets.) I wasn’t watching Pujols reach first base, so I don’t know if there were any pleasantries exchanged between Pujols and Prince Fielder, though I doubt it. But regardless of that, I make mention of Pujols being on 1st base because as he scored the tying run he turned to wait for Holliday to score to congratulate him as any good teammate would do. It’s what he was doing while waiting for Holliday that I take issue with.
But before we get to that, let’s go over my real issue with Albert Pujols. Much has been said about the Milwaukee Brewers and their propensity for enjoying what they do. A lot of “old school” baseball people have spoken out about the Brewers’ post-game celebration of untucking their jerseys. Brewers fans know why they do it and to hell with anybody that takes issue with an innocent display. But Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, the keepers of the morality in baseball apparently, took major offense to it. It got to the point, because the Brewers beat the Cardinals a bunch in a row including sweeping them in St. Louis earlier this year, that after a walk-off victory at Miller Park, the team and coaches sprinted into the dugout in a childish, sure, (yet awesome) overreaction on the part of the Brewers. Pujols and Cardinals whined about that as well.
So, given all that, Pujols apparently thinks that all showmanship and gamesmanship and grandstanding and showboating and celebrating are all disrespectful, right? Well, not quite. Apparently Pujols thinks that anything that can be picked up on by cameras because it’s a big demonstration or somehow stands out is the problem. Like when the Brewers walked off against the San Franciso Giants on Sunday afternoon which lead to the following image of the Brewers celebrating as a team.
So, he either thinks that about just the grandiose displays or he’s a gigantic hypocrite. Then again, it might be that he’s both.
Pujols, after all, likes to give a hop step from time to time when he knows he got a hold of one. He also likes to walk down the first base line, bat in hand, watching home runs fly and then grandly tossing his bat aside as if to say that he didn’t even need it to hit a home run. He also makes a spectacle of pointing up to the heavens as he steps on home plate after each home run.
But tonight, it was something else altogether that I took issue with. Pujols, as I said, was awaiting Holliday’s arrival at home run to score the go ahead run. Holliday’s trot around the bases started with a hop step, by the way, so Pujols had better speak out about his teammate’s disrespect, but I digress. Pujols, while waiting, was burning a hole somewhere. At first, I thought it was at Hoffman because the angle made sense as Hoffman was waiting for a ball to be tossed back to him. However, as Hoffman walked back to the mound, Pujols’ eyes did not follow him. Instead, it became clear where Pujols was staring.
It was down the first base line, about 100 feet away, into the eyes of Prince Fielder. Pujols was sporting a cocky, ****-eating grin on his face all the while. Fielder, to his credit, made no indication that the staredown was taking place, but Pujols did not look away until Holliday scored and he was lining up a high-ten for his teammate.
So, was Pujols’ look (which screamed “Take that and shove it up for ***, Fielder!”, by the way) respectful simply because it wasn’t noticed? Was it the “right” way to do things because he didn’t grandstand but still got his message across? Was his smirk appropriate because it didn’t cause anybody else to notice that he was needling the Brewers’ star?
Perhaps you think it was all those things. Either way, I’d like to read your thoughts below in the comments. But personally, by now you know how I feel about it. And that is to say that celebration is fine with me and if you earned the situation that allows for that celebration, then you may do just that. Yes, it’s annoying when it happens to you, but as has been said countless times about the “untuck ‘em” philosophy of the Brewers, if you don’t want it to happen, then don’t allow the situation to occur in which it happens.
To finish off this thought, though, Pujols shouldn’t be doing anything of the sort since he has such an issue with everything that’s done at the expense of the Cardinals. If you want to do things like staring down your opponent with a arrogant smirk plastered to your face, Albert, then stop whining when in kind is done to you. That’s all I’m saying.
But again, Brewer Nation…what do you think?