There might be no ‘I’ in team, but there definitely is an ‘I’ in quit.
I will never forget the day the news broke that Albert Pujols would be quitting the St. Louis Cardinals to join the Los Angeles Angels. The backlash Pujols received from fans across the state was absurd, unwarranted and immature. Fans were angry because Pujols had reached a certain ‘star-status’ because of his excellent athleticism. He was viewed as a representative of Missourians much like political leaders and celebrities from Missouri.
As one of the few Missourians who didn’t spend October obsessing about the World Series or who didn’t spiral into a deep depression after Pujols’ departure from the Cardinals, I feel the need to offer an unbiased look at the storm of negative responses Pujols received following his exit.
While this news is old, opening day of the Cardinals’ season stirred the pot once again regarding Pujols’ past with the Cardinals and his future with the Angels. I might not be a die-hard Cardinals fan, but cut Pujols some slack.
Pujols spent 11 years with the Cardinals, and during that time, he won the National League Rookie of the Year award during 2001, was an All-Star nine times and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award three times. He also has helped lead the Cardinals to two World Series rings during 2006 and 2011. All these achievements make Pujols an extremely valuable player. Because of the unbelievable commitment of fans to the sport and players, many of us stop thinking of sports professionals as people. Cardinal fans need to start thinking outside the sports realm. To Pujols, baseball is not just a sport, it is his profession.
Pujols, like all other professionals, has the right to make career decisions without receiving criticism from the people who cheered him to victory months before. Pujols fans should respect his choice. In the business world, we don’t condemn a businessman who chooses to move companies just because we think he should be loyal to the company that helped build his résumé. We look at a businessman’s decision to move companies as a business decision and that’s how people need to look at Pujols’ choice to move to the Angels.
Someone who has honed his skill in his profession through numerous years of hard work and has dedicated several years of his life to the Cardinals, Pujols has the right, like any other person in any other profession, to make the decision to relocate. It’s time for Missourians to bid a respectful goodbye to a baseball player who will go down in history as one of the greatest ever and count themselves lucky that a player of his caliber was a part of the Cardinal legacy.
I understand this is a sensitive issue because the majority of Pujols’ professional career has been played in St. Louis and fans have invested themselves in his career. To many, it’s hard to look at his departure as a business decision. However, there’s no need to “cry foul” – pun intended – just because Pujols has left the Cardinals. Athletes quit their teams all the time. The word ‘quit’ becomes a part of their vocabulary even though it probably is the most taboo word in their profession. A true competitor must know when to quit and move on to bigger and better things.
Lacy Murphy is a sophomore French major from Springfield, Mo.