Albert Pujols: II

I love sports fans. But I often hate the perceptions of sports fans. Especially the most dogged and devoted of the group.

Especially the adults who qualify.

If you’re a kid, and you unconditionally love Albert Pujols, well, great. You’re a kid. You see the bright colors and cheering crowds. We’ve all been there. It makes childhood fun.

But adults who worship and swoon over professional athletes—embarrassing. It’s OK to be a fan. It’s actually wonderful to be a fan. But to say, “OK, so he treats people like shit … he must be so busy” is ludicrous. And inane. And really sad. It’s never OK to treat people like shit. Never. And those who have seen Pujols up close with fans at multiple times know exactly whereof I speak. Exactly. When a kid calls out to you, there is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever an excuse to fully ignore him. Ever. Well, maybe if your relative just died and you’re consumed by guilt and dismay. But otherwise—never.

Someone suggested in the comments section that I’m jealous of athletes, hence my anger. It’s such a cliched and lazy argument, it irks the living crap out of me. Were I a fan, watching from afar, I could see being jealous. But I cover this stuff up close. I see the day-to-day life of a pro athlete. And while I love the games and love the unique personalities, I’d honestly rather be any profession than pro athlete. Dentist. Lawyer. Plumber. Writer. Yeah, the pay is a biggie. But forget that—the lifestyle is sooooooo boring. One game. Another game. Another game. Another game. We deem it exciting because, again, of the colors and the lights and the hype. But come with me inside a clubhouse. Seriously, let’s take a walk. Here’s a guy playing with his balls. Here’s another one reading Maxim—again. Here’s this guy watching a video of someone throwing pitches—again. Talk to a reporter. Drink a cup of coffee. Answer fan mail. Pack up—next city.

For those who love playing the game, it’s fantastic. Perfect. But I never loved playing the game. I love writing about it.

OK, that was a long babble. Point is—stop making excuses for people treating other people poorly. Pujols does this all the time, and no matter how great he is to his church and his wife and his daughter, for a guy known to blather on about Jesus Chrust he’s pretty friggin’ un-Christ-like when it comes to being decent to everyday folks.

Just my take. I know 99% of you disagree.

PS: Seriously, I just read an excerpt in the new Rolling Stone of Sammy Hagar’s upcoming biography, Red. Holy shit—the dirt on Eddie Van Halen is unbelievable.

PPS: The above image comes from a Cards message board. So funny.

17 thoughts on “Albert Pujols: II”

  1. You clearly don’t love writing about *the game* — you love writing about all the rich and supposedly terrible people who play the game. You love writing about the athletes who are mean to you and what terrible people they are. Seriously man, it’s all you write about. Done it for years.

    Yeah, athletes are dicks sometimes. You know who else is a dick sometimes? *Literally* every person in the world. Me, you, those plumbers and dentists (who, btw, have similarly monotonous lives like ballplayers), we’re all jerks at one point or another. This isn’t news. And to continue to write about it for as long as you have doesn’t send the message that you’re jealous — it sends the message that you have an agenda for tearing down and exposing the sordid details of these terrible non-poor players’ existence. If that’s your niche, then fine. But at least be up front about it.

  2. Oh, and click my name on this comment for a 1999 story, for which the title is essentially “Donovan Osborne is a jerk”. 12 years later, same old story.

  3. Jeff, I actually do agree with you. He should act better around fans, especially to live up to a Christian ideal. He should be a better ambassador for the game, especially when he’s asking to be the highest-paid player in it.

    But you took it one step further. You are asking us to JUDGE the man based on his relationship with his fans. Which is utterly ridiculous. Should we judge Derek Jeter as ‘good’ because he is fan-friendly, even though he bangs every hot chick in NYC? Should we judge Miguel Cabrera as ‘good’ because he smiles while he signs autographs, even though he puts lives in danger every time he gets behind the wheel with a bottle of scotch? Heck, Babe Ruth was probably the greatest ambassador the game ever had, but based on what we know now about the man I wouldn’t give him many points in the morality department.

    Is it disappointing that Pujols doesn’t behave better around fans? As a fan of the Cardinals and a fan of the game in general, I say absolutely. But it pretty much ends there. And I’ll take him as a representative of the game over some fake BS artist any day of the week.

  4. Jeff,

    Since I’m part of the 1% who agree with you, let me just paraphrase Paul Newman, “We’ve got 20/20 vision, and the rest of the world wears bi-focals.”

    The thing is, this should be about the kids. Adults, especially the professional collectors, ruin it for everyone.

    If I may, let me share a quick story involving Darryl Strawberry. I used to frequent baseball card shows in the 80’s, and I saw something that was quite the opposite of what you witnessed with Albert Pujols.

    Darryl was at a show in New Haven, and the promoter wouldn’t let anyone take pictures for fear that it would slow down the line. One boy wanted to have his picture taken with Darryl, and when the promoter very rudely said no, Darryl stood up, lifted the kid over the table, and sat him right down on his knee, joking and laughing with him – his father took a few pictures, and they went on their merry way.

    With all the stuff that happened with Darryl in the ensuing years, that one moment always stuck with me.

  5. Jeff – I am of the 1% who totally agree with you. Pujols is a stud athlete, but a dick person. Life is too short as are athletic careers. It’s too bad Albert does not see this – He will surely miss the attention when he retires and the well has run dry. Keep up the great insight – love reading your stuff.

  6. I do find this a bit funny. Pujols, the winner of the Roberto Clemente award with a foundation that has helped thousands of families is criticized for not waving at fans that call his name 24 hours a day while an ESPN writer accused of domestic violence is praised on this site.

  7. Jeff- Perhaps “jealous” wasn’t the right term. But I do think self-righteous might be the right one. As I stated before, you are very adamant on this subject, and have called out various athletes in the past for their attitude. I respect you for sticking to your guns, I just think you are woefully wrong.

    Now it is my personal belief, that athletes have ONE JOB. That is, to train as hard as they can to be the best player they can be for their organization.

    When I see writers complain about a player’s personality or demeanor- It absolutely sickens me.

    1) You are judging the player on cherry picked events. Unless you are a stalker, you don’t follow what Pujols does when he leaves the yard or team events. Perhaps Pujols is just “always” in “game face” mode, and doesn’t want to be distracted from his training?

    2) Autographs are a joke. Half of these people sell the shit on E-Bay anyways. Yeah, SHAME ON THE ATHLETE for not wanting to contribute to their wealth. Jeebus.

    3) Interacting with the fans can get old. You wrote that Pujols at an autograph event barely acknowledged the fans and never looked up.

    Let’s look at some things here.

    Pujols has been in the big leagues for 10 years. Might it be that Pujols has gotten BORED with the constant “we love you Albert” routine? Perhaps, just maybe, it’s kinda tough to produce smile after smile for the same boring comments made by fans over a 10 year span? I’d love to see you handle all of that for 10 years, then write about it. But again, this is cause and effect for a conclusion that Albert is a jerk. If anything, THAT is lazy analysis by yourself.

    And again jeff, I don’t want to come off as one of your “typical haters’> I think you do brilliant work on other topics, but this is just One I highly disagree with you on.

  8. James K- Yeah that’s what I’ve been saying. Jeff is a good writer, but he has already beaten this topic to death on a lot of other players.

    Google “Will Clark is mean”. Another story that’s the same.

  9. Nick – Your points are valid, I will give you that. I don’t make millions of dollars per year, but if I did, I would be very grateful to those who help me make that money. It is human decency to look at someone when talked to, especially a kid who idolizes you. Training and focus is one thing, being a true and grateful person is another thing.

  10. Jeff, I’ve been reading you for years. You criticize people who you feel are not morally wonderful, while simultaneously being judgmental and profiting from the very thing you claim to despise. If everyone in the world had a peachy disposition, you would be far less successful than you are today. After all, your books – all of them – are about people with moral flaws. I suspect that those books are successful for the same reason that these athletes are successful: the public roots for their skills while being interested in – even if disgusted by – their behavior. This phenomenon is the source of your success. Your attack on Pujols is only the latest in a long line of attacking athletes’ morality while profiting from their purported lack of it.

    1. DG, unfair. My books are about people with moral flaws because they’re about people. we ALL have moral flaws.

  11. Again I know nothing about the guy, or the situations.
    I do know somethings about human nature though. We tend to dislike those people that make our jobs difficult.
    Kind of makes us look at nuisances with out a lot of love.
    I don’t know what was going on in Pujols’ mind or yours.
    Any possibility neither of you are being fair to others?

  12. Thought about doin a piece about this on my site. Im goin to talk to a friend of AP’s and see what he thinks of it.

    But before I do, my perception is that–while Pujols IS sometimes wrong in the way he expresses it–he hates to be seen as someone who is superhuman; and reacts accordingly.

    If you can throw some insight my way as to the humanan Pujols, Id appreciate it.

  13. Maybe you got messages or tweets that ran against your first column and increased your perception that the reaction was 99% negative, but simply perusing the comments showed plenty of people who supported your point of view.

    Without any personal knowledge or contact with Pujols to draw from, my sense is that your column was probably pretty accurate. And I am a Cards fan through and through.

  14. My grandson was on the receiving end of Mr Pujols in Houston, Tx at the Westin. What a rude piece he was and to a couple other young boys. Calling him a jerk would be nice. After approaching, timidly I might add, Carpenter, Wainwright, Rolen, Yaddie, Suppan, Moulder(this was 2006), Eckstein, Edmonds, and not only getting autographs but allowing Mamaw to take pictures, all of these gentlemen could not have been nicer. In fact, Scottie waited patiently while Mamaw got the flash to work. Scottie is still his favorite player. Pujols was a total jerk to not only my grandson but the two Spanish children there. Their Mother blessed him out in Spanish. We would never buy anything that had Pujols name on it. This was the 2006 Champion Cardinals. How thrilled we were after the season to know we had these wonderful players picture with our grandson. By the way he used Mr Rolen and etc and a big please and thank you each time. But he still will tell you what a jerk Pujols was.

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