As you’re probably aware at this point, Albert Pujols’ postgame absence following the Cardinals’ 2-1 loss in game two on Thursday night wasn’t received especially well by the folks in the media. Pujols, along with fellow veterans Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina, did not speak to reporters after the game. It’s certainly not a surprise that Mr. Pujols is the center of attention on baseball’s biggest stage, but he has taken a lot of negative heat as a result of this situation. Is there some substance to this criticism, or is this whole thing no big deal?
According to Pujols, he was indeed in the clubhouse after the game, but he was in the players’ dining room, which is off-limits to media personnel. His argument is that he would have spoken to reporters if approached by Brian Bartow (media relations director), but no reporter approached Bartow until 40 minutes after the game. The media, however, argues because he played a prominent role in the game with a ninth inning error, he should have been at his locker when the clubhouse was opened to reporters.
"What do you want me to wait, 40 minutes for you guys? I was there in the clubhouse getting something to eat. What about the night before when I spoke for an hour and a half? That’s not fair. I think with you guys, we have to walk on eggshells. I don’t think that’s fair. I was there. Usually Brian comes around and says, “Hey, they need you over there.” Nobody approached him until 40 minutes after the game. You know what? Forty minutes, I was on the way home. Sometimes you’re going to make mistakes. Did I feel last night that I made a mistake? I don’t think so. I was waiting, and nobody approached me. What can I do?"
Clearly Albert isn’t feeling guilty about what transpired, and I don’t think he should. The whole story was blown way out of proportion thanks to a Yahoo! Sports article questioning Pujols’ leadership. Quite frankly, I cannot believe that things have elevated to the point where the media is bringing this evil wrath upon him for such an insignificant incident.
While I understand that MLB players have a responsibility to speak with the media upon request, it would be foolish to think that Pujols intentionally dodged the media and was not accountable for his mistake. I think this has more to do with a poor setup than anything else. Players from the losing team are not brought into MLB’s interview room, which is not ideal by any means.
A postgame mixup is a postgame mixup. Leave it at that. Albert was hungry after a three-plus hour game, and I don’t blame him. Hasn’t his past reputation as a relatively media friendly guy earned him some respect in a situation like this? If you’re trying to get Albert to answer your questions, giving him hell for something that wasn’t entirely his fault is not exact a great way to go about it.
Meanwhile, if you thought that this might be a distraction for Pujols moving forward in the series, you were wrong. After entering game three without a hit so far in the World Series, The Machine has exploded in game three with four hits, five RBIs, three runs scored, and two moon-shot home runs that traveled 400+ feet. He became the first player in World Series history to collect a hit in four consecutive innings. Check that, Albert has now gone deep for the third time in the game and in three straight at-bats with a solo shot in the top of the ninth. I should have known better than to post this article before the end of the game. Albert, why are you just so incredible? He joins Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson, otherwise known as Mr. October, as the only players in World Series history to hit three home runs in a single game. Jackson did it in 1977, and Ruth did it twice in the 1920’s. His bat has done plenty of talking and then some tonight, and I think he’ll be more than happy to speak with reporters after this performance.