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Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa respond to criticism for skipping out on media

Oct 21, 2011, 10:01 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols takes part in practice a day prior to Game 3 of MLB's World Series baseball championship in Arlington

As we bid this off-day of the World Series adieu, here’s an update of the big hullabaloo of the day. Well, at least for some of us.

According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, Albert Pujols and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa responded to criticism this afternoon for members of the team skipping out on the media following Thursday’s Game 2 loss to the Rangers.

Their answers probably won’t satisfy everyone.

Here’s La Russa’s take:

“It’s getaway day. We’re leaving earlier because we had an early workout.” La Russa said. “They wanted to pack for their families. If anybody had said, ‘We need to talk to Albert,’ he would have stayed. … I heard the criticism, and it offends me.”

You tell ‘em, La Russa. I mean, who would want to talk to Albert Pujols after a World Series game, anyway? Jake Westbrook is far more interesting.

Anyway, here’s what Pujols had to say for himself.

“I don’t think that’s fair because I was an hour-and-a-half the day before and 20 minutes last night and nobody came looking for me and I left. Now everybody wants to say I didn’t want to talk with the press. That’s just not realistic,” Pujols said.

Pujols also told reporters that he was in the clubhouse kitchen for 20 minutes, presumably to eat a Hot Pocket, then left because nobody from the Cardinals’ media staff asked him to come out.

I would love to get worked up about this situation, but I think this off-day has made everyone a little bored and crazy. That’s understandable. Thankfully we have a baseball game on the schedule tomorrow night.

  1. crookedstick - Oct 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    There’s absolutely NO way Pujols leaves St. Louis via free agency. If he can’t handle this criticism, how could he possibly function in a market that actually holds him accountable for acting like a jerk?

    • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM

      What response would make you think he could handle this criticism? All he said was that he was around, apparently busy, and no one asked to talk to him while he was there. What is it about that response that indicates he “can’t handle this criticism?

      • stabonerichard - Oct 22, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        As D.J. mentioned in closing, this thing really isn’t a big deal worth getting riled up over. But part of being a professional athlete, especially during the pinnacle event of the season, is being available for the media. It’s part of the gig, and the Cards’ top players missed the mark on Thursday.

        Albert responded by playing dumb… paraphrasing: “I was in the kitchen. You mean someone wanted to talk to me? How would I know that?”

        Whatever you say, big Al.

        Berkman on the other hand was more straight forward: “That won’t happen again. I’ll make sure — if I have to stand in there — that one of us is available for comment, win or lose.”

        Bingo.

  2. brewcrewfan54 - Oct 21, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    Nobody wants to talm to Albert Pujols after a World Series game? That’s a bunch of bull shit.

    • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:33 AM

      No one said that either, they said that no one asked for him to come to the common area to talk to him.

  3. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    Nothing like the east coast baseball writers. They are still mad that they were cheated out of the best two teams, the Red Sox and the Phillies in the WS (how I have no idea). The real story is that without Pujols talking to them they would actually have to work for a living and shock of shocks have to write about the game. The truly lazy ones made Pujols burying the lead of Rangers rally to tie the series.

    • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

      Nah, they still didn’t have to work….they just passed off an en masse bitch session as content.

  4. mojosmagic - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    I hate flavor of the moment teams and I also don’t like LaRussa. Go Rangers!!!

    • fearlessleader - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:20 PM

      The second winningest franchise in Major League history is a “flavor of the moment”?

      • mkd - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:41 PM

        Yeah those bandwagon fans in St. Louis are just the worst. What a bunch of phonies. I’ll bet most of ‘em don’t even know who Stan Musial is!

    • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:41 AM

      Aren’t the Rangers the very definition of “flavor of the moment”? I actually don’t know what that is supposed to mean, but if I did know, I think it would describe the Rangers perfectly. A team no one usually cares about whose attendance waxes and wanes due to the majority of their “fans” being the fair weather sort. They are in the 5th largest US market and the 2nd largest with only 1 MLB team and the attendance since 2001 has been 11th, 15th, 18th, 13th, 15th, 16th,17th, 25th, 17th, 14th, and 10th….never coming close matching the attendance of those upstart Cardinals from a tiny mid-western city….who happen to be in their 18th WS (2nd most in MLB history), having won 10 (also 2nd) of their first 17….damned flavor of the multiple-century teams…I hate those.

  5. eagles512 - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    Just say you were wrong Albert. You’re making yourself look worse.

    • Old Gator - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:02 AM

      Or better yet – say that the media are a bunch of cockaroaches and parasites and decerebrates and the only reason you ever do talk to them is because there are times when you’ve got nothing better to do.

      • Old Gator - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:04 AM

        Incidentally, I still have a few jalapeno and cheese sweetcorn cakes left over from the “I’m so irritated that______” contest, so I’ll save them for the winner of the forthcoming “best reason not to waste your time talking to sports media” contest that begins….ready?….now.

  6. buddaley - Oct 22, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    I don’t like to make a big issue of this sort of thing either, but I do think Passan makes a reasonable point. And I think it is ingenuous to deny that speaking with the media is an accepted part of a player’s role. Every team expects its players to be available to the media and spends resources to help them do so effectively.

    It is the World Series, not a mid-season game. Presumably there is a national audience interested. Regardless of whether it was an error, Pujols was in the middle of a significant play. Not just later, but at the moment, any fan knew that it was potentially damaging to the Cardinals when Andrus reached 2B.

    Three players were obviously going to be the center of attention when the Cardinals lost-Pujols, Jay and Motte. Never mind the issue of leadership even (although I think it is a factor). Just as a matter of common sense, it behooves Pujols to share the stand with the other two.

    I don’t draw any larger inferences-about his character or his leadership or his willingness to accept responsibility-from this one incident. But I do think that in this one case Pujols was wrong not to be there to answer questions.

    • buddaley - Oct 22, 2011 at 6:23 AM

      I think this is a pretty good take on the situation. Linked at Baseball Think Factory.

      http://footer.mlblogs.com/2011/10/21/ballplayers-and-reporters-cant-we-just-all-get-along/

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 22, 2011 at 8:17 AM

        Thanks for the link . . . worth reading.

      • Old Gator - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:05 AM

        Not worth reading. Arguments for why one should talk to sports media are like arguments for the existence of God. There’s no way to prove either.

      • buddaley - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:16 AM

        Being able to “Prove” something is not the only thing that makes reading something worthwhile. In fact, sometimes the very fact that it cannot be proven is what makes the article interesting and worthwhile.

      • Old Gator - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        Ordinarily I would agree with you, but since the comparative basis of the urgency for proving the existence of God and for talking to sports media is not exactly apples and apples (heh heh), I would continue to maintain that there’s no measurable interest (unless you happen to have that Swiss particle accelerator handy) in arguing the importance of talking to sportswriters.

      • buddaley - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:42 AM

        There are some people for whom the issue of talking to sports media is far more important than arguing about the existence of god, at least for their day to day lives. That may be because in their minds the existence of god is a settled issue one way or the other or because they simply consider more mundane issues more manageable.

        In any case, while you may be uninterested in the question, I do think there are larger questions involved, at least by implication. No need to exaggerate the importance of the question, but for many it is interesting to consider whether athletes are obligated to be available to their fans via the media.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:45 AM

        Beg to differ, OG….not really apples to apples (now we’re getting into Herman Cain produce-based economic policy). It’s an interesting perspective on the story–no more and no less.
        Let’s be honest, there’s really no importance in reading sports blogs, or commenting on them, yet here we are.

      • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        Except that nowadays players don’t need to talk to the media and fans most certainly don’t need some portions of the media. Players can and do communicate directly with fans, avoiding the spin- and agenda-filled fliter that is the media. Much of the media performs a service that is no longer required, and the “reporters” (they aren’t actually reporting anything, everyone already knows what happened in the game) in the locker room after games fit into the “no longer necessary” category.

      • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:57 AM

        Alyson makes some good points (especially about reporters not necessarily being good at deducing why something happened), but she also notes the silliness of the situation. Brad Lidge had to answer questions for 30 minutes after giving up the NLCS HR to Pujols in 2005? What in the world could possibly take 30 minutes to say? He threw a pitch and the best player in the league lost it in the seats….what possible insights could Lidge provide? Did reporters want to know if he was disappointed in the result? If the pitch was a mistake (hanging breaking balls always are)? What?

      • buddaley - Oct 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM

        But paperlions, why do you think that the players direct comments to the fans are any less biased or more insightful than those filtered through reporters, commentators and the like? They too have personal agendas and limited, albeit interesting, perspectives.

        I think the blanket condemnation of media is just as misguided as the assumption that we are getting the whole truth from them. They are another avenue of information/opinion, and it is incumbent upon the audience to be critical readers and viewers. As a matter of fact, many reporters and columnists are intelligent, well-educated professionals who provide a valuable service, and the fact that some have become hacks does not mean they are all useless any more than a few quack doctors reflect the entire profession.

        I read the local sportswriters in my community and am very impressed by their skills and insights. I like some better than others, and some I find banal or hidebound. But others provide interesting analysis based both on their sources and their professional training in crafting columns.

        Perhaps traditional media, especially newspapers, will be superseded by other modes of delivering information and opinion, but whatever replaces them will have to adopt some of the skills and values that made them so vital for many years.

  7. hueylewis - Oct 22, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    Pujols is such a moody individual. He also receives special treatment and protection from LaRussa. No Cardinal makes more baserunning mistakes than Pujols. Pujols never gets questioned about that by the media, and why would a softball market like StLouis do that? They would lose access to him, and LaRussa would make their jobs much harder to do.

    This is a player that continually gets a free pass for a lack of fundamentals, and wants 30 million dollars per year? Give me a break! Pujols left his teammates holding the bag last night. It was clear that he did not want to be questioned about his critical mistake, and just took off. Instead of saying that he made a mistake today,…..Pujols and LaRussa turn it into a joke. Blaming everyone else but himself.

    Pujols in a major market would be a P.R. disaster for him and the club. Pujols would be the Jim Rice of this era. The media would hold him accountable, and it would get ugly.

    • mkd - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:17 AM

      I agree with the sentiment that Pujols might be too moody to hack it in an intense media environment, but to say he could be the Jim Rice of his era…well you’d have to ignore the order of magnitude talent differential.

      • jimeejohnson - Oct 22, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        Jim Rice career stats:
        BA: .298 HR: 382 SO: 1423

        Albert Pujols carestatstsL

        BA: .328 HR: 445 SO: 704

        Jim Rice is another overrated Boston choke! His batting average in the post season: ..225
        Albert Pujols post season batting average: .331

        Jim Rice can’t even hold Albert Pujol’s jockstrap.

  8. Walk - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    Man i wish albert had an arbitration year left. I could see the first point now. Well in all fairness 30 million a year is a bit high for a player no reporters wanted to talk to after a pivotal world series game.

  9. 1historian - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    media – get over it, more importantly – get over yourself.

  10. artisan3m - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Go Rangers ~ sweep the three games in Arlington and proudly fly the flag. Now that said, I’m thrilled that Albert Pujols didn’t cave in to a bunch of whiney, whimpering baseball writers. He owes no one an apology and I’m glad he didn’t grovel to the press for his absence following Game 2. With the displayed attitude of the writers and column inches of criticism aimed at him, Albert could be respected for remaining ‘unavailable.’

    • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:59 AM

      Agreed. These guys rely on players, and most are available after every game….to have a public bitch-fest (when there is a game you could write about instead) is to bite the hand that feeds you. The players don’t need the media at all, it is a one-sided relationship, and the beggers should really be a little more appreciative of the handouts they get daily, instead of reacting so badly the one day they are forced to go hungry.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 22, 2011 at 10:24 AM

        Let’s all stipulate to the fact that the sportswriters are often lazy and redundant. However, they are a fact of life in pro sports and they’re not going away. Alyson’s point is that nobody has an obligation to talk to the press, but the veterans shouldn’t leave the young guys alone on the firing line.

    • Old Gator - Oct 22, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      It’s the self-importance that makes their so-called reportage generally worthless. Somewhere along the line sportswriters decided that the game itself wasn’t enough of a subject for generating storylines – let’s call it the Dick Young syndrome, for those who remember the New York Daily News ├╝berscribe – and the behavior, private lives, private pronouncements and whatever else they could dig up instead of paying attention to the game became the substance, if we can call it that, of their writing (if we can call it that).

      Along with this shift in focus our sports media became possessed of the odd notion that they were moral voices, social critics, and most noxious, judges juries and executioners of a ballplayer’s conduct if not his very right to exist. It doesn’t take much of a semiotic analysis of the average sports column, blog or tawrk raydeeo blather to realize that these clowns are barely qualified to write or emote properly structured sentences, much less complex analytics of social and moral concerns. The media’s odd conviction that it is entitled to an athlete’s time is really the least of it.

      Matter of fact, a brief exposure to the vast majority of their pronouncements discloses that they are puckered, shuttered, ideologically constipated nincompoops. Most of them are barely even functionally literate. I think the end of my interest in the entire genre came when some utter drooling idiot wrote recently that some ballplayer’s duty was to be on the field, not at the bedside of his wife in labor. Nobody blinkered and stupid enough to write that could possibly write about anything else that deserved our interest and attention. Nothing. ZZzzzzzipppp. Beep.

      Ballgames are narratives, mythologies in motion and in the making for as long as it takes to get that 27th and final out. Even the most atrociously played of them are rich narratives at that. Bart Giamatti, in Take Time for Paradise – in his characteristically elegant prose, something of which I doubt a fraction of a percent of our current sportswriters are capable of generating anymore – is worth reading if only because he restores our focus to the mythopoeic grandeur of the game itself. Our sports press, with its chronic inability to grasp the intrinsic narrative of baseball and to illuminate it in any meaningful way anymore, goes for the easy mark – the cliches, the irrelevancies, the trivia at the game’s periphery.

      No thanks.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 22, 2011 at 1:27 PM

        Nice romance novel.

  11. crookedstick - Oct 22, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Here’s the thing….don’t act like this isn’t Pujols’ first rodeo. It’s his third World Series appearance. He knows exactly what’s expected of him. To claim, “no one asked for me to come out” is just crap. Did anyone ask Motte to come out? No, he knew what was expected and stood by his locker and answered the questions. Did anyone ask the other Cardinals who manned up and stood and ask questions. They didn’t hide in the kitchen to avoid facing the music.

    Does anyone think for a moment that if Pujols had the game winning hit, he wouldn’t have been out there front and center telling everyone how great he is? He can’t have it both ways. Typical multimillion dollar hypocrite.

    LaRussa is offended? I’m offended he thinks everyone is so stupid to believe their lame excuses.

  12. readhed - Oct 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    Oh wow crookedstick, you were there? You know what happened. Do you have ESP? You know exactly what Albert would have done, should have done and why? You are offensive.

  13. readhed - Oct 22, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    Oh and by the way, Cards lead 14 to 6 – 2 blasts by ALBERT!!!!!!

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