Here's how I found out:
"miklaszbernie: Good deal for Pujols. Hard to turn that down. I don't blame Cardinals for declining to go that far."
In this new Twitter world, we sometimes learn of breaking news by reading others' opinion of it and then we have to unwind that reel and get the details.
El Hombre es el Vamos.
Gone. Like my last paycheck. Like the car I wrecked. Like a fifth of gin. Like the shape I'm in. Like a Nixon file. Like my landlord's smile.
Gone gone away.
Was going to load this column up with heaping spoonfuls of various Tweets and On-line quips from supposedly intelligent people regarding the freely-made free-agency decision made by Albert to switch teams. But a columnist has to at some point freely opine on his own. So. . .
I guess the first way to illustrate how yours truly felt upon really coming to grips with the news is to explain how joyful I'd have felt if --as it appeared to seem Wednesday night -- the Cardinals had been able to retain A.P.. I'll quote my actual e-mail to Kevin Horrigan, the editor of the St.Louis Post-Dispatch, and a friend.
"Tell sports edit to start a p.r./fund-raising campaign. Take retiring a jersey # to a whole new level...St.Louis style. Re-do the famous birdsonthebat logo to the 2 cardinals having little jerseys on. One be #6 and one be #5. Heh heh heh."
In other words, if we re-sign Pujols, he automatically becomes as equal as anyone will ever be able to to Stan Musial, the head-and-shoulders-above-the-rest-so-far Cardinal. And the assumption was, at least in this here cranial space, that it was impossible to even imagine anyone equaling the likes of #'s 5 and 6.
Now we must move on. Most of my and your buddies are probably all singing the basic same song, right? "We'll be even better. More money to spend now. Already the best team in the NL even without him, etc...." "I've heard he's even older than 31, etc...." "The Cardinals are an institution. Way above any certain player or team of players, etc....."
Remember LaRussa's famous, "It sure is easy just pencilling in #5 in the 3-hole every morning."? Yeah, well. Not so easy now, is it? Oh, and by the way, LaRussa es el vamos, dos!
Pujols was much more than a strong hitter/fielder. He was Linus's security blanket writ way large. Way. Phat large. Dope large. Huge.
He's probably the reason that David Friese achieved his potential as quickly as he did. Ditto for Allen 'Torty' Craig. And Wainwright. And Molina. And on. And on.
And as much as he spoiled us at the plate (not only were we in the stands *assuming* he was going to hit a 3rd HR after he'd already hit 2 in G3 of this year's WS, we were trying to figue out exactly what section he'd launch it toward), his baseball genious was truly and brilliantly on display on defense. He made the 'trick-play' look like the only play. The examples are endless. I'll leave them to you to remember.
Because we are going to miss that. And I'm afraid, often.
Lose sleep? Of course not. But, maybe, lose--or not play in--a couple or a few versions of the World Series championships. Impossible to tell, even after A.P. does retire.
Albert Pujols is the best baseball player I've ever seen. He was called The Machine for a reason. If you're keeping score, this is the 5th column I've written about El Hombre alone since I started doing this 3-4 years ago. Fitting. Because it will almost surely be the last.
Here below lies my best attempt at his St.L Card-related obit:
Two-thousand, well, five.
Game three. NLDS v HOU.
Pujols v Lidge
That. Ball. Hasn't. Landed. Yet.
"#Pujols now an Angel. He was a Cardinal. He bypassed being Pope. @billscheft" (Twitter)
Brian K. Mitchell, an R.Ph.,
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