Albert…coming back?

Remember all the angst, frustration, bitterness in the fall of 2011, it focused around Albert Pujols. Pujols had become a free agent in Oct of 2011. Many StL fans were “up in arms” when the Cards basically passed on Pujols’ demands. Albert signed a 10 year contract with the Angels. Let’s take a look at the past —
….Albert HAD been an unbelievable batter from 2001 thru 2011 for the Cards.. He had received votes each year in the NL MVP voting –winning the NL MVP 3x, finished 2nd-4x. His 11 year totals in the Lou were incredible: 445 HR, 1329 RBI’s, an OPS of 1.037. 2073 hits
…The Angels have seen a different Albert Pujols. He’s received AL MVP votes twice-both times 17th in voting and has played in just 1 All Star game for the AL. His batting numbers in Anaheim—217 HR, 771 RBI’s, OPS .761, 1163 hits. Apparently, one of the objectives when obtaining Albert was to boost up the Latino interest in Angel baseball. Hence, Albert has a contractual obligation beyond his playing days to represent the Angels.
…sooo…what’s happened in 10 years….the StL fans..for the most part, have realized that it was a proper financial move by the Cards and Albert. They’d have been tied up with Albert’s albatross of a contract for a decade. Now….this winter the Cards traded Dexter Fowler to the Angels for “a player to be named later or cash considerations”. Several fans around the Lou are reading that “player to be name later” as Albert!
..pro’s for Albert coming back….1) the fans showered him with one standing O after the other when the Angels came to town last year! Clearly, their memories had shifted away from the departure and centered on his unbelievable time with the Redbirds. 2) It would be a fitting end to his career.
…con’s against his return…With Goldy at 1B, Albert would either a) Pinch hit b) be a DH c) get an occasional spot start on day game after a night game. But, basically where would he play? DH is only being used only by the AL in 2021. If I’ve counted correctly, there is only 2 AWAY series against AL teams after the All-Star break when the DH would be used. Soo…it appears to me that he’d pinch hit almost every home game to make his appearance & ovation from the crowd. What if the Cards are engaged in a very tight battle for a playoff spot. Would they “use up” an AB for Albert in a very close, tight game? Finally….would the fans realize that this Albert isn’t the same Albert who left 10 years ago? He’s clearly only a shadow of his glory days in the Lou. Would the Cards, Angels, StL fans, & Albert be satisfied with that arrangement?
…. Then the latest fly in the ointment…Albert’s age! It seems that he’s 2 or 3 years older than the age of 41 that has been listed for him currently. Albert stepped into it himself in an 2018 interview when he said,”I actually batted off Octavio Dotel when I was 12 almost 13 years old and that was 28 years ago”. That would have made him 41…in 2018. Do people care? Do the teams that paid an enormous salary based on a presumed age feel different? Btw….sidebar here…I’ve felt that many Latin American players are older than the age given for them. I don’t blame them! I’d lie too if it’d help me make enough money for my family… and many relatives…for the rest of my life and their lives. Albert certainly has done that…he’s earned $300,000,000 in his career. Good for him! Will the age make a difference with the Cards…I doubt it. … Would YOU try to bring Albert back?
…There has been another famous Cardinal who made a “come back” to the Lou. After playing for the Cards for 11 years(an All-Star 9x), Red Schoendienst was traded to the NY Giants at trading deadline 1956 in a multi-player swap. A year later, NY sent him to the Milwaukee Braves at the trade deadline. Red helped the Braves win the World Series in 57 and reach the World Series in 58 prior to bowing to the NYY in the World Series. Red returned in 1961 to the Cards-signing as free agent where he played 2 more years. Then, 6 games in his 3rd year as he retired at 40 years of age and became a coach. In 1965 Red became Cards manager leading them to pennants in 67, 68 and winning the Series in 1967.
….Let’s widen the term–“come back”. What about players who have made “come-backs” from serious issues….like war time! Here’s an unbelievable story…Cecil Travis. Travis played for the Washington Senators. By 1941, he had 3 All-Star appearances and was considered as one of the MLB’s best infielders while batting .327. He left to serve in WWII, missing 4 of his prime years and suffered severe frostbite while battling in the Battle of the Bulge. He came very close to losing his feet to amputation. However, he DID return to the MLB for 3 seasons. He was never the player prior to WWII battles but just the fact that he could “come back” to the MLB is really inspiring.
…there were many MLB players who served in WWII, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller (was a gunner on Navy battleship), Ted Williams(an unbelievable fighting pilot with his 20/9 vision who was called back to action for the Korean War due to his expertise in the air). Two lesser known players-Dixie Howell & Phil Marchildon were both in P.O.W. camps for extended periods of time. Howell didn’t return to the MLB until 1949 due to his condition. Unbelievable, heroic, yet rather overlooked “comebacks” by those courageous veterans of WWII.
…the most famous comeback known in modern times is the Tommy John comeback. This slightly built Lefthander, some say 1 of the best pitchers NOT in the HOF. In 1974 he posted a 13-3 record. He damaged his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He agreed to a new, somewhat experimental procedure at the time. It was a success. It has been replicated many, many times. So much so.. we now call it the Tommy John surgery!!
…the latest, greatest Cardinal “come back” as a team in a very important game was the Cards Oct 25, 2011 World Series game 6 against the Texas Rangers. The Cards were down 3-2 in the Series & the Rangers need just 1 more win. The Cards won in 11 innings, the lead changed hands 7 times and was tied 5 other times. Of Course we all remember the heroics of David Frese. His game winning HR as he throws his helmet through his legs crossing home plate into the bevy of Cardinal teammates! So many freakish stats in this game…yes Frese had 2 hits, the other multi-hit Cards in that game were Lance Berkmann-3 hits and 2 hits each for Daniel Descalso & John Jay. Both of them came into the game as pinch hitters and stayed in the game! The next night, Cards won game 7 behind Chris Carpenter 6-2 as he controlled the game. Some starting stats from that series….in Game 3 of this series, Albert hit 3 Home RUNS; Yadi Molina led the team in RBI’s for the Series with 9; while Freese led all the regulars with an OPS of 1.16 for the Series, right behind him with an OPS of 1.15 was Alan Craig!!! It still gets me riled up when rereading & writing about that unbelievable game 6 and the 2011 World Series itself!
…well….that wraps up my Come-backs…I’m hoping that many of you will come back to me with a post on Facebook or an email to me about the Albert comeback(yes or no?)…or other come-backs for that matter 😊

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