Oct 22, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; A general view as St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols runs across a painted logo on the field before game three of the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

An Open Response to Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post Dispatch

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I don’t often take much offense or have a response to any articles that others write about, particularly when it comes to sports. I rarely agree with Mr. Burwell, but he is entitled to his opinions as much as I am. When you are a journalist of any sort you have the opportunity to express your opinions in an open forum for others to read and discuss. I would like to vehemently disagree with Mr. Burwell’s assessment of fans of Cardinal Nation when it comes to the departure of “You Know Who” this past off-season.

As those of you who follow my columns know I rarely write the name Albert Pujols. This has been a conscious effort to not include him. I don’t think I will be able to refrain from using his name in this article. Mr. Burwell takes St. Louis Cardinal fans to task for there sheer enjoyment of the fact that Pujol$ is struggling out on the West Coast. Albert has slipped below the Mendoza line and has just recently hit his first homerun of the season. While I am disgusted with him I do hope he has a solid career, eventually.  A little struggle now is okay.

Burwell states in the early stages of his column that Albert’s decision to leave the Cards didn’t reach the proportion of the LeBron James “Decision”. This is the first item I disagree with Burwell on. I think the Pujol$ debacle was much worse. LeBron made it known from the beginning he was looking to win and would go where he had the best chance to do that and to make bank. Pujol$ hid behind the statements that he wanted to remain here but would ultimately do what was best for his family. Albert was already part of a winner. LeBron was searching for a ring.

When Albert left St. Louis he burned bridges that may never be rebuilt. His smug attitude about his 2011 World Series ring, and recent comments about his number retirement ultimately reminded fans how much he was different from our perception of him. Mr. Burwell, Albert was El Hombre. He is no longer. Many Cardinal fans now “spit his name out like it is spoiled milk” because he has proven he doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Mr. Stan Musial.

Pujol$ had it made in St. Louis. He left for slightly more than the Cardinals offered ($3 million on average over the ten years depending on what you believe) and is suffering the consequences of a huge contract and the expectations that come along with it. He made that decision and he must deal with it. Albert would have a pass in St. Louis with these current struggles. I for one don’t think that he would be struggling like this if he were still wearing the Birds on Bat across his chest. I would guarantee he wouldn’t be as roundly booed in Busch, as he was the other night. He’s just another person there. He was a hero here.

I think it’s fair to say that we know that we got the best years of Albert’s career. He probably needed to move to the American League at some point to prolong his career. Had he said that from the get go Cardinal fans would have been disappointed but not nearly as ticked off as we are about the way he went about it. His wife did absolutely nothing to help the public’s perception. For a family that stated that it was never about the money, they proved otherwise very quickly. When the Cardinals offered a 5-year deal that made him the highest paid player in Major League history it was a slap in the face. Really??? Let’s compare that to the yearly salary of the average Cardinal fan.  It would have given him the opportunity to go to the AL then to finish his career and cemented his Cardinal legacy.

As disappointed as I am as a fan of the game I do hope that this saga does have a happy ending. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. It is going to require the Pujols family to eat a lot of crow. I don’t see Albert’s ego ever allowing that to happen. Mr. Burwell chastised the Cardinal fans for reveling in Albert’s struggles. I will admit that I have been hoping to see him fall below the Mendoza line. I have enjoyed watching his smug butt suffer a lack of success. It’s a character builder. I have eased up a little. I haven’t told anyone that I hope that his legs explode in quite a while. Maybe I am becoming soft.

Pujols may never win another World Series. I honestly think the Redbirds will win one before the Angels do. This will become more difficult for his Halos if Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers continue to hit and win at this blistering pace.

Mr. Burwell, Cardinal Nation deserves better than your disappointment. Pujols is not the guy we thought he was. He chose to walk away from hero status and a loyal fan base. We love our Cardinals. We love most of our former Cardinals who leave us for a variety of reasons and often hope to see them back in the uniform someday as a player, coach, or at events. He left his friends and his family behind. I am sure that weighs on his mind. If this was the right move for his family, why are they still here?? While I think Pujol$ will snap out of this funk and perform. In my humble opinion he will never perform to the level of this contract. While you may hope for a better ending it will not come about until Pujol$ makes amends and owns up to his mistakes. Until then many of Cardinal Nation will watch his performance and revel in his lack of success because that it what he deserves. He turned his back on us it’s not unacceptable to turn our backs on him.

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Tags: Albert Pujols Bryan Burwell Cardinal Nation Cardinals Josh Hamilton LeBron James Mendoza Line St Louis Cardinals

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