Jeff Pearlman

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Albert Pujols and the treatment of people

Note: I wrote this column when I was down in Florida last week. I recognize the criticism that will follow (it already has), but I ask fans to stop always blindly defending the behavior of athletes, merely because they’re athletes. I’m not saying Albert Pujols is Satan, or even Satan Jr. He may well be America’s nicest man. But I’ve watched him in spring training for several years now, and it always infuriates me. I know athletes are bombarded by fans; that they can’t sign everything; that memorabilia peddlers take the fun out. Bottom line: You have the chance to truly touch people.

Or not to.

When I was a kid, my dad told me something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Jeff, you can judge people by how they treat you, or you can judge them by how they treat others. It’s easy to praise someone for being nice to you when they need to be. But do they talk to the waiter? The bellhop? Are they friendly to people for no other reason than it’s righteous?”

I agree 100%.


The line stretches halfway around Roger Dean Stadium here in Jupiter, Florida, an elastic red-and-white snake of hope and dreams and nostalgia and, well, more than a smidge of anger.

The 617 people are, technically, here for St. Louis Cardinals Autograph Day.

The 617 people are, factually, here for Albert Pujols.

Do not take the last sentence to mean that they, the Redbird fans gathered at the team’s spring training facility this past Saturday, love Albert Pujols. Oh, they love the way he plays. The Ruthian home runs deep into the stands. The doubles laced into the gaps. The intensity with which he runs the bases; the steeliness he brings to the plate in a clutch situation.

Genuine love, however, is more than mere admiration. Genuine love, especially in sports, means forming a bond; a relationship; a connection. St. Louis fans love Stan Musial because, for 70 years, he has been loving them back. The same passion can be applied to Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith and even Mark McGwire. They are St. Louis icons not merely for their talents, but for their dispositions.

In this department, Albert Pujols falls far short.

Because we in the sports media tend to make certain allowances for superstars, Pujols has been repeatedly praised for his soft heart and charitable deeds. If one were to audaciously suggest that Pujols leans toward unfriendly and rude, he would inevitably be reminded that the St. Louis slugger is heavily involved in his own charitable foundation, which does great work in areas related to Down syndrome. And that the St. Louis slugger is very religious. And that the St. Louis slugger is charitable and religious. Really, his charity is amazing! And he’s religious! Very religious! So, so, so religious. Loves God! Really!*

Which would all be swell and dandy were Pujols not, ahem, treating Cardinals fans like garbage. Which he does.

Regularly.

To watch Pujols interact with the St. Louis diehards is to watch a prototypical spoiled, arrogant 21st century sports star at his absolute worst. During spring training, it is common for players to wave or smile or nod or (gasp!) talk to fans as they trot from one field to the next during otherwise monotonous drill sessions. Lance Berkman is the king of this practice. Gerald Laird isn’t far behind. Pujols, on the other hand, does nothing. When people call his name, he almost never gazes up. When people ask for an autograph, he doesn’t even bother with a “Not now” or “Try me later.” Instead, he resorts to tactics men like Barry Bonds and Albert Belle perfected in the recent decades—the steel-faced, Why-are-you-even-talking-to-me? ignore-the-world two-step.

It’s not that Pujols doesn’t say much—neither does Derek Jeter. It’s not that Pujols is intense—Josh Hamilton is certainly right there with him. No, what rubs an increasing number of people wrongly is his galling frostiness. Or, as one longtime Cardinals usher said to me the other day, “How about looking up at people when they talk to you? How about acknowledging that they exist?”

Said another: “He’s probably a nice man. But he never shows it.”

Pujols’ supporters (and there are many) will cry blasphemy; will cite the myriad pressures of being a superstar jock; will evoke the foundation and the spirituality and 42 home runs and 118 RBIs from 2010. And, to a certain degree, they’ll have a case. But as I comb through the 617 people waiting to enter Roger Dean—many of who slept out through the night to be assured their seven seconds with Pujols—I am struck by the oddness of it all. Save for the handful of professional memorabilia collectors (who really do ruin these things for everyone), the people here simply want to be touched by Albert Pujols; to see that, come day’s end, he’s a wonderful man.

And yet …

• “We want Albert to be a Cardinal for life, and he’s an amazing player,” says Jan, a Belleville, Illinois native who slept outside the stadium. “I understand that it’s hard signing every autograph. I get that. But he doesn’t seem to sign any.”

• “I want to love Albert,” says Deron, a Shiloh, Illinois native who also slept out. “But he makes it hard sometimes.”

• “I don’t understand Albert, because the fans would give anything to like and support him,” says Chris, an engineer and lifelong Cardinals fan. “But he doesn’t sign autographs, and when he does sign he makes it illegible slop and he’s never polite.”

Now, however, on Autograph Day, Pujols must sign. The Cardinals have told their players that they are required to wear their jerseys, sit and accept items for one full hour. Hence, the 617.

Pujols is placed at the end of a white table, alongside pitcher Adam Reifer. When the fans are finally herded into Roger Dean, roughly 75 percent head straight to Pujols’ line.

Here is a direct, play-by-play transcript from the opening minutes:

Fan: “Albert, great to meet you! You’re my favorite player in the world!”

Pujols (not looking up): “Thanks.”

Fan 2: “Albert, do you sign jerseys?”

Pujols: (not looking up): “No.”

Fan 2: “Helmets?”

Pujols (not looking up): “No.”

Fan 3: “Good luck this year, Albert. You deserve everything you get.”

Pujols (not looking up): “Uh-huh. Thanks.”

Fan 4: “Albert, my daughter loves you.”

Pujols (not looking up): No response.

Pujols does not look up—ever. He does not show emotion—ever. The fan can be a grandmother; the fan can be a 6-year-old boy. It matters not. Like 98 percent of his teammates, he’d rather be shaving wild emus than sitting here. The rest of the Cardinals, however, attempt to hide it. For a full hour, Pujols doesn’t. Because of his endorsement deal with Upper Deck, he signs only pictures and baseballs (every other player signs whatever’s presented to him). He rarely smiles, concealing any emotions (and his face) behind a pair of sunglasses.

Within the Cardinals’ organization, this has been a well-kept secret for years—that the Albert Pujols everyone wants to love isn’t all that loveable. Many familiar with Pujols aren’t surprised by his rumored contract demands—the 10 years, the $30 million annually—because the numbers meet the ego.

Yet now, with free agency approaching, the real Albert Pujols might have to step up. Thirty million dollar ballplayers can’t just be ballplayers. They can’t just talk foundations and God. They have to be ambassadors. They have to be representatives. They have to smile and greet and symbolize and acknowledge that what fans want most isn’t aloofness, but access.

They have to look up.

* PS: Fact: We in the sports media far too often judge an athlete’s goodness based on his charitable foundation. I’d say 50 percent of top-tier athletes have some sort of foundation, and while I don’t doubt Pujols’ intentions in this area, it’s not the best manner (in my opinion) for judging a person.

And I don’t want to hear that he’s shy. Or bashful. He’s not. And, in my book, there’s never an excuse to treat people this way. Ever.

  • Steve702

    Character and personality are often shaped by failure: swinging and missing, getting picked last, not making the cut, the sort of things that rarely happened to Albert Pujols.

    • Scott Vines

      We will witness “karma” coming back to bite Pujols, and long before his numbers decline to the point of becoming an objective albatross to the Angels. LA won’t stand for his surliness. I’ve lived in St. Louis, San Francisco and LA, and mid-western people tend to be much more patient and charitable in their behavior. Many in LA will effectively call him “cocksucker” to his face if he pulls some the crap described in this article.

  • Dave

    Jeff — So what’s the point of this column? Could you please just release a list of which ball players are “good” and which ones are “bad” and move on to writing about something else?

    Are you trying to shape public opinion as Pujols negotiates his next contract? You seem to resent his rumored contract demand by chalking it up to ego instead of even pausing to consider if his performance would merit it.

    • David

      Dave, Almost 14 Months After Your Comment To Jeff’s Article, “…instead of even pausing to consider if his performance would merit it…”, I Wonder, Now, What You Think? Does His Current Performance Merit The Absurdly Ridiculous Amount of Coin That Arte & The Halos Are Paying For A .217 Hitter, With 4 RBI’S & 0 HR’s After 23 Games? I Was As Big A Fan of AP As Any Cardinal Fan Could By, During His Tenure In STL. But He Changed My Opinion By His Behavior. You Cannot Wave The “Respect” Flag, & In The Same “Wave”, Demand Respect Back. He Claims The Redbirds Disrespected Him With Their Contract Offer. Well What Respect Did He Show Them or Us. For The Record, Jeff’s Observations Are Accurate, As I Have Heard Similar Personal Experiences From Others, Both Reporters & Fans!!! WELL DONE JEFF!!!!!

  • Horace

    Same behavior as Lebron James. These people are so out of touch with reality that it’s beyond even worrying about it. Oh well, it’ll come back to haunt them one day.

  • Ted

    Gosh, another story about a supposedly nice-guy athlete who, in reality, isn’t when it comes down to “the fans.” Any adult in that autograph line should be ashamed of himself/herself for hoping to get a bit of scribble on a piece of paper. Any kid in line has now learned that their favorite player can be or is a jerk, and perhaps is not someone to idolize because they can hit a baseball. That is a good, if somewhat painful, lesson to learn early in life.
    It’s fun to watch sports and talented athletes in action, but they don’t care about the fans. Musial was for real, but there are no more Musials.There are just lots of Pujolses.

  • Jim K.

    The guy married a single mother that had a child with Down’s Syndrome before he was a superstar. Still married to her & raises tons of money for kids with Down’s Syndrome. But because he doesn’t look up at idiots who want his autograph he’s a jerk. Whatever.

  • Jim K.

    By the way, if you’re noticing that you’re not getting many comments on your blog lately it’s because it takes 10 minutes to do so. Fyi.

  • Kara

    Jeff,

    Good work. Pujols is a great player, but hardly a great person. You’ve got some moxie for daring to say so.

    Now, if you can learn to distinguish between a great player like Jim Edmonds and slightly better than average players like Steve Finley and Berny Williams, you’ll have earned your stripes.

  • Mike

    I’m with Jim on this one….The fact that people line up to sniff a player’s jock strap is ridiculous in itself. Perhaps other athletes have charities, but do you really know how much effort Albert or any of the others put into them? And most importantly, it is quite possible that Albert does great things for people when others aren’t watching. If he buys a sandwich for a homeless person and no one hears about it, I find that far more awesome compared to signing an autograph, little kid or not…

  • Nick

    Notice to all athletes: There is now a clause in your contract that instead of concentrating on training, and being the best player you can be, you all now have to sign as many autographs and produce as many smiles as Jeff Pearlman deems acceptable.

    This is now, like the 4th article Jeff has written criticizing athletes for their treatment of writers or fans.

    1: Kirk rueter, spring training 98

    2: Will Clark, after Clark yelled at Pearlman for his John Rocker article

    3: Barry bonds. How dare Barry treat the media bad! He should worship every writer that has ever talked to him!

    4: Albert Pujols.

    Does anyone not see a pattern here? Jeff, while he IS a good writer most of the time, has an obsession with athletes and how they are SUPPOSED to act in the spotlight, according to paradigms created by the media.

    So it’s one of 2 things here:

    Jeff is either

    1) Jealous of ball players and their fame, wealth, and talent.

    or

    2) Genuinely cares about fans and is taking this to an extreme.

    My money is on Number 1, as logic would lead me to believe that 4 of the same damn articles tells me that he is jealous. But hey, maybe I am wrong.

    jeff: i admire you for stick to your guns, but ease up on the “athletes NEED to do such and such” routine. They are humans and don’t owe the public shit.

  • farfel

    Didn’t Sports Illustrated do a huge piece on what a great guy he is?

    Maybe he’s socially awkward.

    Whatevs, with those sorta numbers, I forgive him. He doesn’t beat the wife, drive drunk, commit crimes.

  • G

    “what fans want most isn’t aloofness, but access”

    I want wins most of all.

  • jmw

    Jim K,
    It seems to me that the Opera browser is slightly faster.
    I still use Firefox, haven’t tried IE.
    What I do is open the comments in a new tab. That way I can still read other things while Jeff’s comments page loads.
    With Firefox a little spinning wheel on the tab quits spinning when the page has loaded. With Opera I don’t see any indication the tab is or is not loading.
    Never seen a page load so slow since the days of dial up.

  • blmeanie

    I’m ok with the criticism Jeff dishes out. I don’t care whether it is this player or that player. The obscene money made by athletes comes from the fans and equally obscene prices and cost of being a fan. I’d so much rather read about an athlete that responded to people with “how are you doing, I’ll sign that for you, thanks for supporting the team and me as a player. Without your (fans) support I wouldn’t be able to command $300m contracts” with a nice big smile. At least that would be honest. Instead they have egos that tell them they deserve that much money and shouldn’t need to interact with the people paying it.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Robert

    Jeff- Your an idiot. There is really no point to this column. Basically this story is Albert not looking up on autograph day. Who cares? The guy is a stud and a great man off the field and raises tons of money for children and adults with Down’s Syndrome. He also is very involved with his church. Maybe you should do your homework before yo post a story like this.

    • Pat

      So do you forget that all these people that he “stiffs” pay his salary by buying expensive tickets, ridiculously priced food, expensive memoribilia, and anything else Pujols related. He is a jerk, this article is about the way he treats HIS fans, HIS supporters, not his personal life.

    • Jason

      That would be “you’re an idiot”. If you’re going to insult someone’s intelligence, make sure you spell the words right.

  • http://jayaresea.com jayaresea

    I believe jeff’s site’s speed issue is related to a javascript plugin that tries to load right before the comments load…on a PC in the bottom left corner you can see a “waiting for http://www.sociofluid.com” notice. His site is trying to load a widget from their site…but in all the (4-5) times I’ve tried to actually load sociofluid.com, I’m unsuccessful. I mentioned this about a week ago in another comment thread that he may want to try removing the widget (I can’t figure out what it’s *supposed* to be doing), but I figured maybe also it was just my machine with the problem.

    Sounds like others are having it too.

    To stay on topic…blmeanie the “obscene prices and cost” would, if true, lead to there being very few fans. But oddly enough ballparks are still packing them in. Supply is simply matching demand. And if Pujols doesn’t get the “obscene money,” then the fat white guy in the luxury box will get it. Makes sense the guy who people pay to see should get a good chunk of it.

  • Sportswriting Refugee

    Nick – Honestly, sports writers are not jealous of athletes. I see this comment a lot whenever an athlete is criticized, and it’s not true. For the most part, guys like Jeff who cover major beats like baseball, the NFL, or big-time college football and basketball feel like they’ve “made it” in their chosen profession. It’s actually a tough road to hoe, just as tough as reaching the top in any other profession. By the time you get to that point, you are pretty at peace with your station in life.

    I speak for myself, but I think this applies to most sports writers: We have long, long gotten over the fact that some people are blessed with athletic ability to play in the big leagues, and some people are not.

    Nick, you should address Jeff’s criticism of Pujols and other players at face value. He may be wrong or he may be right, but you’d be better served dropping the “jealousy” investigation and just focusing on whether the critique is valid or invalid.

  • Frank

    Why this story now? Because this is America it is the place where we build people up so high they can never met the expectations we put on them. So we then start to knock them down once there is a little blemish to pick at.

    • Jeff Pearlman

      frank, the story now because, for the fifth time is six years, i watched albert pujols treat fans like crap. and i think it’s wrong.

      • Kathy

        Thanks

  • Joyce H

    WOW you could not be more wrong. I work out in the same room as Albert in the off season almost every day and have never once been treated like that. I always get a friendly hello and he even went to his car one day to get me a baseball card that he signed. Try treating him like a person instead of a god. He likes that.

    • BenJedi

      I’m gonna guess that if you are working out in the same room as Pujols, then you probably, socio-economically are well off. After all, we go to gyms close to home and I’ve seen Pujols’s home. So he’ll mingle with “The Jone’s”, yet, if you aren’t in that same class, he’ll treat u like S!!! It’s easy for poor people to be nice to other poor people, just like its nice for the rich to rub elbows with the rich. I may be way off in this, but I think Joyce might enjoy the finer things in life??? Reveal yourself Joyce, cuz I ain’t buying Pujols as a good Samaritan.

  • http://www.twonateshow.com Nate

    You’ve posed an interesting question. Judge someone by how they treat you, or by how they treat others? Oh, I dunno. Maybe we shouldn’t judge someone unless we’ve walked 10,000 miles in their shoes. I think professional athletes live a sucky existence because they have to deal with 1,000′s of fans who are just gonna turn around and sell their autograph anyways. So maybe a better question we should ask is – why do fans have to be so clingy and annoying?

    • Benjedi

      You sound like you are Pujols’s personal “reach around” artist. Sucky existence???? Yes, many of them do by their own doing. I know that I’d like to have a shot at that sucky existence. Boy, working out, playing a kids game, traveling the world, women throwing themselves at you, people adoring you, staying in the nicest hotels, eating the finest meals, half the year off, driving expensive cars. You need to wake up!!!!! The ones who live a sucky existence do so, because their ego forces them to never be happy. Pujols has always been a social invalid, probably because he’s used to being worshiped and told how great he was, so relationships with strangers, to him, should sound like this “oh Albert, you are just the best. I’d be happy to give you a reachy like my buddy Nate. We both drool over how spectacular you are. I won’t even ask for your autograph since I’m probably not good enought to ask for one. Am I being annoying Mr. Pujols? You want me to pay for your dinner Sir Albert?”. The reason the “bad” ones are “bad” Nate is because of coddelers like you.

  • Southern Gent

    I’m not into athlete worship and have never been personally offended by one so maybe I’m the wrong one to comment on this article. But here goes anyway. Would the fans prefer an autograph or RBI’s? Would they prefer a quick “Hi, how are you” or home runs? While it would be nice if star athletes could be as “nice” or personable as most of the rest of us, theirs is a world completely unlike ours. No way they can relate to the average Joe. It might be nice if they made the effort but at the end of the day, most fans simply want a “W” in the win-loss column. All most people see when they look at an athlete is the 3 hours a day they’re actually in a game. They don’t see the paparazzi making a normal life impossible. They don’t think about how guys like Pujols take winning, and especially losing, so personally. To us it’s just another game. To them, it’s what they get paid lots of money for, and for some the burden of it is enormous. I don’t know if that’s part of why he seems so cold to the average joe, but I’d bet it is. And maybe he resents it a bit. And let’s not forget that he is simply an entertainer, paid to keep us busy 162 or more games a year. Nothing more. You think he, and probably a lot of other highly-paid entertainers, don’t think about that? I would venture a guess that most of us would not deal very well with that kind of burden, those kinds of expectations. I know I wouldn’t.

    So for these reasons, I’ll give him a pass. Would it be nice if he’d play nice, smile, and readily give an autograph? Absolutely. Should I demand it? Absolutely not.

  • Woody Thomas

    I don’t think Pujols was like that his first 3 or 4 years in the league, but he has become more of a jerk with each passing year. I’ve been a Cardinal fan for 50 years and personally cannot stand Albert Pujols.

    • Peter

      Woody…I bet you can stand Albert tonight. Cards leading 2nd playoff game against BrewCrew 4-0 and Albert has all 4 RBIs, with a 2-run homer and a 2-run double.

  • Jim

    Probably the best player with the worst attitude toward people ever.

    If you’re consistently a jerk to people, you’re gonna get called on it eventually. I don’t care how much you donate to your kids charity.

    Great player, doesn’t like people though, too bad.

  • Pingback: Would you rather have an autograph or an RBI? | Cardinals GM

  • Budman17

    The fans pay your salary, moron. Pay them the respect they deserve. Stan Musial represents everything that was good about baseball. Pujols does not.

  • Tanner Scheppers

    Any chance you can change the title to “Pujols is a Poo-Hole”?

  • Neverfales

    As a lifelong Cardinals fan who is quick to react to ANY criticism of his team, I will say that this article is not unfair in the slightest. I have been to spring training in Jupiter, FL the last two years and have witnessed this stuff first hand. Also, does anyone ever catch the post-game lockerroom interviews with Pujols? His surliness with reporters (and these are St. Louis reporters–hardly the axe-wielding types that cover New York, Boston and Philly teams)is fast approaching a Barry Bonds level. Albert’s noble deeds are many, but Stan Musial he is absolutely NOT. I understand that superstars get tired of being hounded for autographs, but this could be his last season with these fans who’ve made him who he is. Act like it means as much to you as it does to them, Albert! It’s all part of the game.

  • rainer

    It’s fair to call him out for being a jerk that day.

    But his charity work is way way above and beyond your average athlete. They don’t hand out the Roberto Clemente award lightly. And he married a woman who had a child with Down’s syndrome. Find me the average athlete who does that.

  • Navy Wife

    You missed one very IMPORTANT point to this article. A very close friend of mine, who is also a US Navy Chief, met Albert Pujols at a baseball game during a special military event. During a meet and greet with the players, my friend walked up to Pujols, stuck his hand out and said “It’s nice to meet you, Albert!” Pujols responded by ignoring the hand shake entirely (of course) and coldly responding with, “You can call me MR. PUJOLS.” I have never seen or heard of ANY professional athlete being so crass as to treat a US Navy Chief with such blatant disrespect.

  • Navy Wife

    I also forgot to mention that this occurred early on in his MLB career.

  • G

    “And he married a woman who had a child with Down’s syndrome.”

    Not only did he marry her, he adopted the child. I don’t think most people realize what a big deal that is. That makes him legally (i.e. financially) responsible for her to the same degree as his biological children. He chose to be more than a stepfather to a child with special needs.

    I don’t doubt that he can be surly, even rude. But let’s keep things in proper persepctive when measuring his character.

  • Diane

    Gee, when Albert visited my son in the hospital he was very talkative and empathetic. He asked us what we needed autographed. He asked my son several questions. He spent HOURS going from room to room visiting with families and children.
    When Albert is on the field I don’t expect him to chat up the fans. If he is signing HUNDREDS of baseballs with HUNDREDS of people in line…I don’t expect him to chat up the crowd.
    You are a baseball star wannabe.

  • Ed S

    Watch the video of the game in Pittsburgh when a fan tumbled out of his seat trying to catch a foul ball. Albert not only stayed by the fans side while the medical staff helped him, Albert also comforted the man’s son. Then tell me what other players would have gone to that extent to comfort a fan.

    espn link – http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4385159

    • Benjedi

      What other players, oh I don’t know, how bout the other 15 or so players that where in the frame along with Puj-Madonna. He just happened to be the closest to the action, so he gets no props for that.

      Also, watch the video closely and tell me what you notice about the guy’s son…..yup, he has DS and Pujols has a special place for people with DS. Why, because he has a daughter with it. Do I get props because my kids don’t has DS, yet I have a real soft spot for them, nope. You are 0-2 on this one Ed. Keep drinking the Koolade!!

  • wow…

    WTF is wrong with you people? He gets props because he married a woman who had a kid with DS? Wow….wow. You all are nuts…

  • Mark C

    Is your blog a rant about Albert or about religious hypocracy? The way I read this blog, it is about religious hypocracy.

  • Kamali M

    My son and I have met Albert on several occasions and have never had a bad experience. He has always greeted my son with a hand shake and a smile. He has even gone out of his way to shake my hand. It sounds like you are trying to stir up some negative attitudes about Albert. I am sorry you had the experience you did.

  • Tucker

    First off I agree that fans should be treated greatly in a perfect world…but we don’t live in a perfect world.

    I don’t understand why fans treat ballplayers any differently then anyone else on the street. Would you take time out of your day to speak and converse socially with a complete stranger at a gas station? Probably not…but because you see 5 hitting home runs every night during the summer you feel like you both are friends and have a personal relationship….you don’t.

    Not condoning rudeness to anyone but please…an athlete being egotistical?….haven’t we all seen this movie before?

    Probably should move on to other topics.

  • Rosebud

    Interesting you should mention Stan Musial. When The Man was a player in the 50s, he too, was a master of dodging the autograph. He and Red Schoendienst parked in separate lots away from all the players, so they could avoid the kids seeking their autographs. Sound familiar? (a la Albert using the owners lot in spring training.)

    I say this not to criticize Musial, but to point out that Pujols is no different from any other in-demand athlete, seeking to manage his time and access to do what they do best – hit baseballs.

    The fact that Albert appears to be a family guy who hasn’t had any scrapes with the law and isn’t out obscenely spending his money makes him a solid citizen.

    You just want him to be a better actor on the stage.

  • Jeff

    I recall reading the same Pearlman article about Nomar Garciaparra a few years back. Funny thing is he’s exactly right. Elite athletes should be cordial to the fans that contribute to their financial success. Every one of them should find time to mingle and sign autographs for fans on occasion. Josh Hamilton is the perfect example of a guy that respects his fans.

  • http://www.peaceandhealing.com dan williams

    This article is directly on the mark. All atheletes are role models. Physicians are role models.we are all role models in life. I have wittnessed his behavior and he continues to.point to the heavens after a hit. Wwjd. Hypocrisy. Pujols will be your huckleberry. Look up the origin. By the way is everyone here that naive that the charity issue is always,always coached by their agent. They need a tax write off. ….excellent article

  • Pat H

    First, This is not the Albert that I have viewed over the years. Most fans and writers need understand that these players are working. They need to be focused in their own way, Some players like Carpenter, Pujols are really intense which comes accross as impresonal. While other players may like to interact with fans to cut the stress. Give Carp and Albert, I will take their fan behavior willing!

  • http://PeaceandHealing Dan

    You have to be very intense to sign autographs ????

  • Joe

    Truest post about Pujols I have seen written in a long time. At least the oft hated Barry Bonds would say something to you when you spoke with him. Barry would talk baseball with you and treat you like a person as long as you didnt ask for an autograph. Pujols, on the other hand, is a complete ass. If all of you Pujols lovers dont think so, try running into him in a public setting. Youll find out very quickly.

  • Jonathan

    As an autograph collector myself, Pujols is by far one the worst all time in the MLB. Lets say hypothetically that Pujols gets his $30 million a season, where on earth do you think that money comes from? You, me, and every other fan. Every Cardinals item you buy: shirt, hat, tickets, picture, ANYTHING, goes to paying Albert’s ridiculous salary whether you happen to realize it or not. Then when you enter the ballpark, that $5 hot dog, $10 beer, $50 jersey you bought your kid, well guess what you just helped pay his salary. Look up and down your row, they too all helped pay his salary. And this is before all his endorsements.

    So for the money he makes, the life he gets to live, without a care in the world, the reason he has that is because of you, me, and everyone else who has in some way shape or form paid something to the St. Louis Cardinals.

    I understand that being a superstar you have a lot of attention on you, and a lot more people are going to want your autograph than lets say utilityman Nick Punto, but to treat the fans the way he does is horrendous. Even come over and sign for a few minutes, I know you cant get everyone, but even when you are “forced” to sign by your team at least be professional. At least act like you give a damn to be there, smile, say “thank you” because he could be in the Dominican somewhere struggling to make a living to eat everyday.

    Can’t wait til he gets caught using steroids. NO ONE returns to playing a professional sport 17 days after fracturing their wrist/hand, especially baseball where it is so crucial to fielding and batting to be healthy. When he finally does get caught, watch how quickly he comes over to sign autographs, and better yet, watch how everyone will get one and how he wont stop until everyone gets one.

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  • Anonymous

    Jeff,

    I’ve known Albert for a good part of my life. You couldn’t be any more “on point” with this one. Albert treats people like trash. Thats just a fact. Players from the 06 World series team told me what kind of person Albert was in there clubhouse. They not good reviews. Of course, if you are smart you don’t talk about King Albert or you will be traded or released (which is what happened to the players that told me he was by far a nice guy.

    Albert lies and is very greedy. I was told for many years to remain quiet about this subject but I can no longer keep shut.

    Albert Pujols will be one of the biggest dissappointments ever once everyone knows the truth about him. It will be like Tiger Woods all over again but worst…

  • Jim K Sucks

    Jim K is a moron. Albert Pujols is a jerk, plain and simple. When he stops being able to hit .300 with 30 HRs every year, he will be a useless waste of human life. What a fugazy.

  • Jonas

    I can’t wait for the day that Albert Pujols loses his skills and is worthless to everyone again

  • KMDB

    Back when I was 16 or so, Tom Rathman signed autographs at a charity basketball game during halftime.

    I waited my turn (mostly because the line was filled with girls) and when I got to him, I said “Must be tough having to talk to all these girls” and he ignored me.

    Even at 16, I realized that wasn’t a “one on one” situation. That talking to hundreds of people was tedious and boring.

    I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    You never seem to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. You post anonymous sources. I would be willing to bet 1000′s of people have had positive engagements with this guy.

    Once again, you prove Jeff Pearlman “is a cackling douche.”

  • http://WNLARSON@Hotmail.com William Larson

    When we lived in St. Louis for a year or so (1986-1987) I took my youngest son Craig and a friend to an autograph signing which included Stan Musial, Johnny Mize, Enos Slaughter, and Terry Moore. The Friendliest were Musial and Moore and they conversed with the boys in a friendly manner (where do you live, what position, etc).

    Meanwhile, Mize and Slaughter (who were also my heros growing up) never looked up, continued to talk only to each other, and were generally not even there.

    So, I don’t think it’s any big deal about Pojols…in fact, thats about average for many of the big stars (50% will be accommodating and 50% will back off)

    However, after last nights performance in Texas, lets cut Pojlos some slack! He deserves it!!!

    wnlarson@hotmail.com

  • Whitney

    First off, as a Cardinal fan, I have to say that yes, he is a good player, but good player aside, it is more important to be a good person. I have never had the opportunity to go to a signing day or even be close to a professional baseball player so I can’t say anything about being a jerk or not. What I can say, is he does do a lot of charity work and does do a lot of good work in that area. So, I do say props to him. However, I also think that in the place that he is, in the spotlight, it is important to be friendly and nice. Even if he doesn’t want to be there, he needs to pretend that he wants to be there. But, that’s just my opinion, what do I know, I’m not a professional athlete.

    Also, I would like to say Thank-you to Jeff for using ‘Person First Language’ when talking about Pujols’ daughter and for correctly spelling Down Syndrome.

  • Bill Schnell

    My son ran into Pujols in 2010 at Best Buy getting his cell phone. As a young boy he was super excited to see his hometown hero. It was not planned and my son was getting his first cell phone at 13. Pujols also getting a new phone. Like every American boy, My son asked Albert for his autograph….on his Best Buy gift card. Albert did sign it, but was not very nice. My son then did not even feel good about asking him, as if it was wrong, etc. Reading this I guess he was lucky to get his Best Buy card signed. In actuality Albert missed out being a real star. My son thought Albert was a jerk, and from that point on never liked him. Strange. Albert may be a great guy, but baseball heros are more than just guys who hit home runs. The stars know how to shine on and off the field. I thought it was sad learning Albert was not the person we thought he was. Stan the Man would have made it a moment my son would remember forever. I know, I have a Stan the Man ball. He remains the Man and I’m happy Albert will never break his records as a Cardinal.

    • Benjedi

      I have 2 Puj-Madonna stories:

      A very good friend of mine said he was taking a movie back to the Blockbuster Video on Brentwood Blvd, right across from the StL Galleria. As he pulled in to his space, a white, average car sped in to the space immediately next to his on the passenger side. While my buddy was still sitting in the car, getting ready to exit, the guy in the white car flung open his door, dinging my buddy’s car so hard the he said his car was shaking. My buddy, pissed as anyone should have been, gets out of his car, raised his arms and said “are you serious???”. Out of the white car emerges, you guessed it, Puj-Madonna. He ran around to my buddy and MF’ed him over and over again at the top of his lungs and said “what do u wanna do about it???” while standing 2 inches from my buddy’s nose. My buddy, being out weighed by nearly 60 roid-marinated pounds, obviously backed off. This was in 2001, Puj-madonna’s rookie season.

      The second story is from another close friend of mine. He’s a contractor that won a bid to do work for the Puj-Madonna clan. He said that while he and his crew were toiling in 100 degree, StL heat, Dee Dee (Puj-Madonna’s wife) and his spoiled rotten brats kept walking on the work that my buddy and his crew just put down, forcing them to tear out 2 hrs of work to replace. My buddy politely asked for them to avoid the areas where they where working for a few hours, but the entire family ignored the request and continued behaving as if they were royalty. It got to the point that my buddy pulled his crew and refused to come back until they understood that they couldn’t do that. I can’t remember what happened from there, but I think that about sums up the Pujols’s.

  • Jason

    I’m a St. Louisan and a Cards fan. I loved to watch Albert play and was disappointed when he decided to leave. I do think we got the best of his years and he will probably regret his decision to go. But that is moot.

    If Pujols is an A-hole, then he’s an A-hole. No amount of money excuses that. There are plenty of them everywhere you go. And for those of you who cry jealousy or whatever, grow up. Since when can’t we call people on their BS? Maybe the privileged need it more than most. LA didn’t pay him that money for his talent alone, the world knows he’s peaked. If he can’t suck it up, be nice to fans, and bring more in for The Angels we’ll hear about it.

    Good for you on writing this. Screw the guy if he isn’t gracious… and good riddance.

  • KF

    Red Sox spring training 2011, I saw a kid say something nice to Adrian Gonzalez. A-Gone was coming back slowly from a shoulder injury. He asked the kid if he had a glove. Told him to go get it. A-Gone took the kid on the field and had him help him with his fielding drills for a solid 30+ minutes. Adrian Gonzalez, a great ambassador for the game.

    I’ve been to golf tournaments – Tiger Woods was the biggest d-bag pro athlete I’ve ever seen. Phil Mickelson was TERRIFIC with the fans, spoke with people, was polite, and signed autographs for 45 minutes until everyone was satisfied.

    Pujols sounds like a dink.

  • Ron

    As a Cardinals fan who doesn’t court personal contact with the players, I think Albert has given fans more than their money’s worth. No scandals. No steroids. Plays hard on the field. Doesn’t get in trouble off the field. Good luck in Anaheim. I’d have loved for you to stay a Card.

    • Benjedi

      No steroids??? How the hell are you so sure??? Plays hard???? Are you kidding???? He jogs to first and showboats every chance he gets. Jeter is a player that plays hard. Are you blind??? Do me a favor and put down your copy of the cardinals media guide, take off your bright red under-roos, tear down your ‘free to the first 10,000′ Big Mac posters and step into reality. He was only the best hitter of the “Steroid Era”. He played for a manager who is a known “steroid embracer”. Remember the Bash Brothers, Troy Glaus (known roider), Juan Gonzalez (known roider), Juiced Mac (known roider), ryan Franklin (known roider), and and LaRussa’s name splattered throughout The Mitchell Report? If Puj-madonna is such a great ambassador for the game, he sure bit his tongue when The Mitchell Report investigators came callin, just like the rest of baseball. Probably forgot his English, like Sosa, Mang!!! Hell, division 1 sports are riddled with steroid use and you want me to believe that the best player at the Major League level isn’t doing it too, PUUULEASE!!! Not saying he is a roider, but I also don’t need the weather man to tell me if it’s sunny when I have a perfectly good window to look out of. You are part of the 3million “sheeple” that have your head so far up the cardinal’s ass that you’ve lost touch with what you are really witnessing. I bet you boo’d Bonds everytime he came to the plate too???

  • Brent

    I can not believe some of you guys I myself think he does not have to sign anything to anybody what law is out there that forces him to sign for you. Look at celebrities like Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio and etc will not sign autographs and will rarely be seen out in public. If the man does not want to sign for you then move on with your life. Buy his autograph from his website so he can give that money to his Pujols Foundation. I believe he won’t decline until the last couple years of his baseball career and now being in a hitters league he will dominate the American League just like he did the National League.

    • Dirtbag Steve

      How is that dominating going for King Angel going?

      Happy to let Angels pay for his decline… Hoping King Angel goes into HOF with a A on his hat… That way the Angels could have a HOF player..

  • http://misterhalo@yahoo.com Mister Halo

    I was at Angels Spring training in 2012 and asked Mr Pujols pregame , if I could get a quick picture with my son and he looked at me in disgust and said no and leave me alone….seriously I was pissed and still pissed today. My son at 8 years old was in shock…I was in shocked. He was standing in front of us maybe 2 feet away and really just had to stand there. The guys a jerk and karma is a bitch …he deserves what he gets !

  • Rusty

    Hello my first experience was yesterday 3/5/2013 Albert Pujols first day of 2013. I saw Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo,Mike Scoiscia,Peter Bourjas sign Autographs for some lucky fans. Albert Pujols walked by and didnt even look at the crowd. Shook had’s with some players.Now I’m not going to give any negative comments about my Team “The Angels”,but when you bring your wife to a game who only thing that comes out of her mouth is “WOW”in a very negative tone towards Pujols. It says alot about a high profiled player who will never be voted for in any future All Star game on our Ballots!!!

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life