The third and final volume of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series featured the ultimate showdown between good and evil. The "return of the king" which transpired this past weekend in St. Louis featured good and misunderstood.
Albert Pujols made probably his last appearance as a player in the town which saw him grow to be the best hitter of his generation. He's "the good".
The misunderstood are all of us who puzzled over his decision to leave a city which he will "own" forever. Not being privy to the business part of the deal, I'll refrain from opining about his decision to become an Angel of Anaheim and leave that to the folks who were apoplectic when he left.
Almost a decade later, it is apparent the Cardinals made the correct business move letting him walk, but the fan base is still there for Albert and will be for the foreseeable future.
This past weekend was fun for even an avowed "Cardinal hater" like myself. Something that caught my attention were some of the comments of the ESPN guys on Friday night. They were wondering aloud what would happen if Albert hit a home run.
Would the crowd give him another standing ovation? Would they insist on a curtain call? Would Albert oblige them? They were wishy-washy on all three.
I thought to myself, you guys don't know the Midwest and St. Louis baseball fans. When Albert cracked the homer Saturday night, his 646th dinger but his first ever as a visitor, he not only got the standing "O" but also the curtain call. Not often you see an opposing player get a standing ovation and a curtain call but then Pujols is no ordinary player.
The stat line is incredible, a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer, but the man is incredible also. I can remember no hint of scandal attached to him, I never saw him act out after a bad at bat or never heard of him mistreating the press or any of his teammates.
Watch a game now and see how many expletives are screamed after a strikeout or a perceived bad call by the ump. The Reds have one of the best at swearing after a whiff and when there's only 12,000 or 13,000 folks in attendance, everyone in the stadium hears your limited vocabulary.
The Pujols Family Foundation is still headquartered in St. Louis and has been doing incredibly good things for the area and his native Dominican Republic since its inception. With daughter Isabella being a Down syndrome child, Albert has a special place in his heart for children with disabilities.
Just watch a You Tube video or two of the proms that he has attended and you will be touched, I guarantee it. As Prince Albert [now a King] goes through the inevitable stages of decline, my hope for him is that he recognizes when he's done and just walks away. Koufax did it, Bench did it and it would be cool to see Albert do it too.
For now, the Saturday night home run and subsequent fanfare will have to do. Does anyone that was there remember who won the game? Oops, I forgot that these were Cardinal fans.