Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Worried About Prince Albert

From what I'm hearing, there is reason to be legitimately concerned about Albert Pujols. Not about the way he plays the game--the passion and ability he takes on the field most every night is way beyond most big name, big contract players. And his heartfelt contributions to the community and good work with underpriveleged and mentally challenged kids is exemplary. What he needs to be careful about is his public image, and eventual baseball legacy.

I know you've seen it too. Lately, there have been many clips on television and radio sportscasts, and quotes in the paper, in which our man Albert has been down right rude, and borderline hostile, toward reporters. He snears and mocks them with snide and hurtful answers to questions that make you wonder what's going on in his head. Is he getting the "I'm better than you because I'm a highly-paid and much-loved athlete" syndrome? I certainly hope not.

But, it seems to be obvious that he has some kind of problem dealing with the media. There is no doubt that some media members ask absolutely inane and ridiculous questions. But, some guys who regularly cover the team tell me that Albert is quickly becoming a "don't go near him in the locker room" kind of guy. He is high on the "s--t list" of several members of the media.

How difficult can it be for an athlete to be patient with reporters for 10 minutes per day? After all, even the tactless Whitey Herzog understood that reporters, at least the members of the Baseball Writers of America, are the people who determine whether you are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He mustered enough patience after every game to be civil enough, and entertaining enough, to become their darling.

I would hope that before it gets out of hand, and A.P. does permanent damage to his image, Brian Bartow (Cardinals Media Director), or someone in a position of authority with the team, would pull him aside and point out the grace and humility with which Stan-the-Man handled himself in ALL situations during, and after, his career.

#5 has the chance to surpass the great #6 in the statistics department, but at this pace will never come close to "The Man" in the beloved category. It is doubly important for Albert to learn some people skills because "Cardinal Nation" demands not only great players...but equally great people... to wear the "birds on the bat".

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