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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Pujols and the 2004 wayback machine

When referring back to the February 2004 ESPN article in which I was credited for breaking the story of Albert Pujols previous contract, discussed here on Friday, I noticed the upper right section of the ESPN webpage remained just as it was seven years ago.

The “Also See” area lists these three articles:

Each has interest to me in a nostalgic way.

The “real age” article scolded Pujols if he was taking money under false pretenses. This storyline has dogged the first baseman off and on over his entire career, just as have unfounded rumors of use of performance enhancing drugs.

Suspicion of Pujols having falsified his age was broached in 2003, just as it was picked at recently by another ESPN writer, Rob Neyer. Like all those before him, Neyer, who days ago left the worldwide leader, had absolutely nothing of substance to back up his insinuations.

With the size of the target on Pujols’ back, if there was dirt in his past to unearth, I truly believe someone would have done it by now. In today’s media world, the only thing better than floating anonymous rumors about big game is actually taking down the beast.

The “long-term contract” story came out of the 2004 Cardinals Winter Warm-Up and includes what I believe is one of Pujols’ two most famous lines. It was spoken by Albert in reply to a question as to whether or not he would offer the Cardinals a hometown discount.

“What do you mean? This is business. There’s no break here.”

What is Pujols’ other memorable line, you ask? It was from the spring of 2009, words I highlighted just a few days ago right here at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

“It’s not about the money. I already got my money. It’s about winning and that’s it.”

The contrast between the two is most striking. The first was spoken when it was contract time. The second quote was made three years before Pujols’ current deal is to run out.

The third ESPN article, from October 2003, highlights remarks from Sammy Sosa, who like Pujols is a native of the Dominican Republic. The Cubs star asserted that the Cardinal, not Barry Bonds, deserved the 2003 National League Most Valuable Player award. Bonds had taken 28 of 32 first-place votes, soundly defeating Pujols, 426-303. Albert had yet to win his first of now-three MVPs.

Sosa’s comments caused ill will from San Francisco at the time, yet he had a point. Pujols’ outpointed Bonds in batting average by .018 and sported a whopping 34 RBI edge over the Giants’ slugger that season.

In 2003, Bonds did edge Pujols in home runs, though a marginal difference at 45 to 43. Sosa had 40 long balls that season and was celebrated for having become the first Hispanic player to reach 500 career home runs. Sosa finished at 609, seventh all-time, while Pujols currently sits in 45th with 408 home runs.

Albert Pujols won the NL MVP in 2005, 2008 and 2009. How many should he have?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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