And then there was nothing.
Let’s cut straight into it: Albert Pujols is an Angel. A Los Angeles Angel.
Let that chill with you for a minute…
Okay, good? Picture that. And with that said, I’m going to write this from the cuff. Not as an info or strategy piece, I’ll do those over on StLouisSports360 and bring them by here. No this is my fan rant. My word about how the entire ending of the Pujols Era in St. Louis played out.
The natural thing to do is find some blame. Who’s it on? Is it on Albert for not having loyalty to the organization that made him? That took a shot on him out of Spring Training when he came out of nowhere? Is it on John Mozeliak? Who had a three year window to close the deal on the greatest player he’ll ever have a chance to maneuver? How about Bill Dewitt, the owner who wouldn’t pay the cost to keep the boss? Somebody has to be at fault.
Or how about nobody takes the fall? Sometimes, things just happen (this is NOT one of those times however…but I’ll get to that tomorrow). And whenever something is great, you want it to last forever. But that isn’t to be. Nobody wanted The Beatles to break up. Folks want the fun of college to last forever, even when college is far in the rearview. Some folks want to see individual promise be delivered on in a particular place so it can be shared with those who believe it is as much their right as it is the individual’s (see LeBron James vs. the state of Ohio).
But in this situation, no of that applies. Albert hit all of the peaks and took the followers of the Cardinals with him. He created another Golden Era for a franchise that is full of them. However, in the end, his destiny didn’t end him here. I can live with that. He did a lot while he was in St. Louis and played a huge role in some major moments in my life. Now he’s moving on with the course of his, and it hurts some that the course of my life has to part with his; no matter how indirect that tie may have been.
But in the end, it’s never about the name and number on the back of the jersey; rather it’s always about the one of the front. He can take everything that he is, but he can’t take Busch Stadium nor the inhabitants that make it what it is. There was always going to be a day after Pujols, just like there was Royce Clayton after Ozzie Smith, Joe Torre after Whitey Herzog, and so on and so forth.
However, what’s so bad about it is that it’s just now getting good for Albert. For the greats of the game, the end of the road is where the payout really happens. This feels like playing for a team all the way until your senior year, and then having to sit out that year…when you know you’re about to win a state championship. Baseball is more numbers driven than any other sport. It’s measured in milestones, and Albert is on the verge of hitting a ton of them, yet I won’t be able to celebrate them. He’ll get 3000 hits, 500 home runs and a ton of other marks that I can’t even see right now, all of which were planted and established as a St. Louis Cardinal, yet not reached here. Now, Angels fans will get to celebrate the high marks of their adopted son like he’d been living with them from day one.
And that stings like motherfucker.
But it’s a business, and business wasn’t meant to be finished here. The fortune of having a guy who will mostly be a top 5 player of all-time for 10 years is amazing. But I still don’t think the team acted early enough to keep this day from happening. The team is still good, but it doesn’t have great written all over it anymore. We lost that today, and the city lost an icon. That can’t be replaced.
All things must pass, and I’m appreciative of what he gave without a doubt. I’m madder at the situation than any one participant in it.
But no matter what happens, most of all, I am damn sure going to miss what’s not even happened yet.
To come and attended my wake or to mourn with me, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.