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Faith and Baseball, Part 1-AlbertPosted Thursday, November 3, 2011, at 12:39 PM
After he hoisted the trophy on Friday night commemorating his first World Series championship, the Comeback Player of the Year Lance Berkman made a comment to Albert Pujols: "Come back. Let's do this again."
While no one knows what is in the stars for Pujols, who will be a free agent effective 11 p.m. CST Wednesday, Nov. 3, he did share some insight into his decision making process. That decision is one Albert has no intention of making alone.
"I'm going to be prayerful about it," he said in a postgame interview Friday night amid the celebration. "Whatever decision I make hopefully is the best decision I make for my family and the fans and everybody."
Pujols' public talk of prayer and his faith is nothing new to the man who just a few days ago tied enough World Series records in a single game to change the way he will forever be viewed in history.
In a recent book chronicling Pujols' career and faith entitled, "Pujols:More than the Game," the story of his childhood, growing up with an alcoholic father is detailed and is credited as a major factor in not just Pujols "the Workhorse," but also in Pujols "the Christian."
"Right now I am just going to enjoy the moment and just celebrate with the guys and pretty much just thank that my teammates that helped me out to accomplish another World Championship, because at the end of your career, those are the sweeter moments that you take," he said. "And there's a lot of tough time that we went through this year and a lot of sweet moments, you know. And the way that we did it is incredible."
Incredible is the understatement of the year. To have been 10.5 games back on Aug. 25 after a crushing series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, this team decided they were going to do things different.
Manager Tony LaRussa said last week that from that point on the team treated each game like it was their last game of the season. They paid no attention to tomorrow, only tonight. That strategy worked and that's why as they hoisted the trophy high to the sky, the Pitbull song "Give me Everything (tonight)," blasted through the Busch Stadium sound system. It was a standing testament to the mentality that pulled this special group of guys through what may be the most dramatic comeback, not just in baseball history, but professional sports as a whole.
"You know, there's not too many teams in the game that done it like that," he said. "I'm just blessed to be part of that."
Pujols played a major role in that run. Despite having his career lowest start to a season, his performance in the second half helped give the Cardinals the boost they needed to stay in the game. As the saying goes, "as goes Pujols, so go the Cardinals."
While he didn't want to talk contract immediately following the World Series, Pujols' certainly looked like a man who wouldn't trade his only baseball home at that moment for anything in the world. The genuine smile he carried all over the field during the celebration and embraces of the people who in just a few days will be involved in intense negotiations with his agent showed a man who appreciates the deep history of the organization he calls home. This is the home of not only his team, but his family and his foundation-two things that are second only to God in his life as he will tell you.
During the clubhouse celebration, even through the goggles, you could see the emotion and excitement in his eyes. As he popped cork after cork, not only showering teammates, but some members of the media as well, he was clearly soaking in every second of that amazing night.
"I think [these are] the best moments of my career pretty much because just the way that we did it, the way that we got in and the way that we finished," he said. "We're the World Champions, it's pretty special."
Yes, Albert, it's pretty special. Just like you were blessed to be a part of this moment, so were we. To quote Joe Buck's call of the final out in game seven, "What a team, what a ride!"
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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