Wednesday, May 02, 2012
I would be the last...well, maybe not the last...but low on the list of those who would wish Albert Pujols a bad time in Anaheim. But after his disastrous April I do have a point to make that I don't think I've heard anyone say yet...at least not in the media.
Good old Al keeps telling the press types out in SoCal that he'll be fine. Just give him a little time and he'll start popping line drives and home runs all over Angel Stadium and other AL parks just like he's always done before. "Not to worry...my numbers don't lie...etc. etc." Given most of the facts we know about Jose Alberto Pujols Alcantara you'd have to believe he's right. The plate discipline will return. The desire to fulfill the title of "World's Greatest Hitter" will subside. The pressures of the new situation will diminish, and...presto, chango...the old Albert will be back blistering the ball and humiliating opposing pitchers.
There is one factor, one that we've always talked about, one that's always been brought up when anyone has entered into a discussion of his value, that he may be overlooking when he makes the above statement. HIS AGE. We all know there has always been a question about what it really is. Oh sure, if you look him up on Wikipedia it will tell you that he was born on January 16th, 1980. That means he's 32 right? Wikipedia is the universally accepted source for all things factual right? Right. Well maybe.
If you have been a Cardinals fan for the past 10 years you know that there has never been a hard-and-fast, truly factual, no-questions-asked, accepted age for Albert. The history of his early life, his immigration from the Dominican, his life in New York, his re-location to Independence MO...its all been much too fuzzy. And the documentation is questionable at best. Combine that with the fact that as a youngster he was a man among boys at a very early age. One historic piece I referred to spoke of how as a sophomore Albert was hitting 450 foot home runs for Fort Osage High School. In his first season, he hit for over a .500 average with 11 home runs. Not bad for a what? 14-year old?
Look, Albert may be 32. Wikipedia may be correct. But what if he's not? Let's just say he's actually 35 or 36 for the sake of making a point. That would put his current slump...and his off year last year in a totally different light wouldn't it? Anyone on the high side of 35 knows how things dramatically change with your body. How things that used to come easy physically suddenly become like...work. Even athletes...at least those without the benefit of certain substances...readily admit that. Vision fades. Coordination falters. Strength lessens. Stamina vanishes.
When Albert says..."I'll be fine", he is surely saying it as someone who believes it. But he also could be someone in denial about the possible effects of his number of years on the planet. All the indicators are there to suggest that he was starting to experience normal age-related regression prior to signing his big deal with Mr. Moreno. Now, if he's really a handful, or even a few, years older than most of the world believes, he could be just entering the twilight of a wonderful career sooner than anyone thought. If my suggestion could be fact, Cardinals fans don't know how lucky they are that things happened the way they did. And they have some terribly smart baseball executives at Busch Stadium for which to be thankful.