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Albert Pujols wants to prove people wrong? About what?

Apr 4, 2012, 9:10 AM EDT

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's first baseman Pujols watches the field during their spring training game at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Arizona

It takes a special kind of person to play the “no one believes in me” card after getting a ten-year, $240 million contract, but Albert Pujols is apparently that special.  From Bob Nightengale at USA Today:

“I always have that chip on my shoulder, no matter what kind of success I’ve had,” Pujols says forcefully. “This is going to be an extra chip on my shoulder that I’m going to have the next 10 years, maybe for the rest of my life. I don’t want to ever change that attitude.”

Pujols has a guaranteed contract from the Angels that will pay him $240 million over 10 years — along with another $10 million when he retires — but he wants to prove people wrong again.

Pujols says he has no hard feelings towards the Cardinals. He even says he’s cool if they want to give another player his old number.  So I guess that makes me wonder even more what the whole “chip on his shoulder” thing is.  I suppose it’s about some people criticizing the size of the deal he got, but way more people criticized the Prince Fielder and Joey Votto contracts than Pujols’.  Everyone agrees that he’s the best in the game and had a $200 million+ deal coming. And he got it.

But of course, Pujols is an incredible athlete, and it’s hard if not impossible for people who aren’t to understand what motivates incredible athletes. What makes them tick.  If it takes Pujols thinking that he has to prove anything to anyone at this point in order to continue being awesome, hey, more power to him.

  1. cur68 - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Lex Luthor has something to prove, that’s why he’s always going up against Superman. There’s something about Pujols that reminds me of Lex Luthor…can’t think what it is though…

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      The haircut?

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:01 AM

        Between Lex Luthor, Albert Pujols,& Craig there is a mighty fine line in the haircut department…not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you. I’m not an anti-baldite. Some of my best friends are bald, in fact.

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        “Some of my best friends are bald”….LMFAO.

        Well played, sir. Well played indeed.

      • nolanwiffle - Apr 4, 2012 at 12:02 PM

        Is it really fair to call it a haircut when God is your barber?

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        OK, then Lex & Craig, barbered by God. Phat Al: I think Al’s wife helps God out with a Gillette Safety Razor™. Either way: put a hat on, the reflection is killing me.

  2. elmaquino - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    He’s talking about being picked 402nd in the draft and has cited this before as his motivation throughout his career.

    • elmaquino - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      From the actual article that clearly esplains what Pujols is talking about but somehow got cut off on HBT:

      Pujols has the second-richest contract in baseball and a home filled with MVP and All-Star awards and World Series rings, but it’s as if none of that matters to him. He feels like it’s 2001 all over again, trying to make the major leagues while showing that every club in baseball made a horrific mistake, passing on him until the 13th round of the draft. He wasn’t selected until the 402nd pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999.

      “I always have that chip on my shoulder, no matter what kind of success I’ve had,” Pujols says forcefully. “This is going to be an extra chip on my shoulder that I’m going to have the next 10 years, maybe for the rest of my life. I don’t want to ever change that attitude.”

  3. phukyouk - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    “Albert Pujols wants to prove people wrong? About what?”

    Global Warming?

    • koufaxmitzvah - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      I hopping on the G-d train.

  4. Gobias Industries - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    The 1969 Mets. Rocky Balboa. The Karate Kid. Lewis Skolnick. The 1980 US Hockey Team. Albert Pujols.

    Wait…what?

  5. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    So it’s cool to give up the St Louis 5, but it’s not okay to call him el Hombre in the O.C.

    And never, ever, cut his sandwich any other way than diagonal.

  6. Cris E - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Oh, sorry, that’s me he’s talking about.

    I totally didn’t believe in him: the age thing when he first came out of nowhere, the claims that he was *always* playing hurt and still performing, and a general taint I sense from many players on Tony LaRussa teams. There was a lot that was too good to be true, so I totally hung casual labels on him like Age, Steroids and Whiner.

    I’m more of an American League guy, so eventually I stopped paying particular attention to Albert, but he’s pretty much proven to be the real deal over time. Mea culpa, I didn’t ever let him know that so he’s still all mad and stuff. He’s clearly a guy who can carry a grudge, so I probably should shoot him a text or something. But at this point I’m afraid he’d finally get comfortable and relax about the whole thing and then he’d suck. Arte Moreno’s crew would come looking for me, my kids would be in danger, I’d end up in hiding. My life would be ruined.

    Screw him. He’s probably a 35 year old druggie anyway…

  7. byjiminy - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Maybe he’s pissed he didn’t get $300 million?

  8. stex52 - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Motivation, like you said. He obviously responds well to the challenge of feeling someone doesn’t like him. But, in fairness, most of us did say we thought the contract was for too long.

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    He’s almost as good as ARod, at least by contractual standards.

  10. fearlessleader - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Gosh, that’s sweet that he has “no hard feelings” toward the team that drafted him when nobody else wanted him, gave him free rein in the clubhouse and on the field, signed Matt Holliday in response to his demands for more big-name players in the lineup, helped put two World Series rings on his fingers, made him the most popular and lionized player in the Midwest, and wanted to pay him $21.5 million a year for the next decade.

  11. ezthinking - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    I would think he’s talking about the “overpaid” business. The “decline-phase” comments that came from all sources.

  12. rooney24 - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    There is no way for him to prove anyone wrong for at least 5 years. No one really argued that he wasn’t worth a big contract for the next 5-7 years. It was the 10 years of the deal that had people shaking their heads. It doesn’t matter what he does the next 5 or so years. He could win 5 straight MVPs. But, if he falls apart and sucks the last 2-3 years of the deal, people will say “told you so”.

  13. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Sounds like more of a mental chip – something he instills in himself to keep an edge in the game. A mindset, really. And clearly it works.

  14. paperlions - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    The most obvious target for his “proving people wrong” is that most say there is no way he’ll be worth that contract, so he’ll work as hard as possible to fight the inevitable (and already underway) decline with age.

    This doesn’t make Pujols any different than most other pro athletes, does it? Nearly every athlete that is good enough to have a job after his prime works harder every year to overcome the natural decline….they don’t just throw up their hands and give up…they fight tooth and nail to hang on as long as possible.

  15. spudchukar - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    I get what you are saying Craig, however, there have been plenty of doubters, particularly here in the HardballTalk pages. Often we read how Pujols has already begun is slide, and that he was not worth the money he eventually got. So the “Shoulder Chip”, isn’t all his invention. I still believe Pujols never wanted to leave St. Louis, and finally felt dissed, so he moved on. Pretty sure he would like to prove the Cards management wrong, and those who support them. Sure he will have to continue to put up numbers, cause the retort after a strong 2012 will be that it is an anomaly and just wait, and then they will say it at the beginning of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 ad infinitum.

    • paperlions - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      I don’t think many doubt that he’ll be worth that money for a few years, but it is a near certainty that he won’t be worth it for the last 5. He wouldn’t have been worth that money in 2011. That salary is for an MVP caliber season every year. He’ll put some of those up, I’m sure. But there aren’t a lot of 36+ year old guys putting up those kinds of seasons.

      • spudchukar - Apr 4, 2012 at 12:00 PM

        Might carry a little more weight, if the numbers Pujols has amassed to date were matched by any player in the history of Baseball. You might be right, and you could probably find more supporters of your demise hypothesis, than deniers, but you might also be wrong, and I guess that is where the impetus for the “Chip” comes from.

  16. spudchukar - Apr 4, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    While it is only Spring Training, Albert’s OPS was the second highest in all of MLB. Motivated? Yeah, probably.

    • paperlions - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Was there ever a time during Pujols’ career that you have questioned his level of motivation, commitment, or work ethic? Any time that you thought he was not maximally motivated to perform? Or obsessively driven to be the best he could be? If the answers are no, then how could he be more motivated now?

      • okwhitefalcon - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        A resounding “No” to all the above.

        I think the distinguishing factor for AP is his ability maintain that uncanny high level of motivation through whatever means despite all of the personal accolades and team success he’s been a part of.

        Dude just never lets up.

  17. okwhitefalcon - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    In reading the Nightengale article and a multitide of pieces by the local STL beat writers/columnists,
    AP clearly is still not happy with how Dewitt dead fished the negotiations as far as 2 seasons ago and throughout the free agent period with the goofy 5 year offer being last straw on the way out the door to Anaheim.

    Sounds like he’s a bit ticked at the Marlins as well for the “pulling the $275 million off” the table line of BS the Marlins tried to spin when they perceived they were no longer in play.

    Anyway…

    At least for now, the Angels are getting a pissed off Albert – and a pissed off Albert is the best Albert.

    • paperlions - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      Pujols has always been very sensitive, it is why he comes off as cantankerous or brooding (or why he may actually be those things at time). He doesn’t seem to be very good at separating business from personal aspects of baseball, which I admit, must be a difficult thing to do at times. He takes everything personally….but if anyone should have known that….it should have been the Cardinals. Still, a negotiation can’t be a love-fest….or you wind up with Ryan Howard’s extension.

      • okwhitefalcon - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        No doubt about.

        Beyond the bottom line, I still have no idea what Dewitt was thinking throughout the entire ordeal – personality management was obviously not his strong suit with AP.

        Yadier Molina appears to have benefitted from a lesson learned, we’ll see if the same line of thinking is used with Wainwright if he proves to be healthy.

        By all accounts, Waino is extremely aware of the market and where the bar could be set for his next contracts AAV.

  18. btwicey - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Beast. MVP 2012 no doubt.

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