Column: Cardinals fans: Pujols hate unwarranted

Dear Cardinals fans,

I really don’t get it, guys.

Your team is coming off one of the most unbelievable World Series wins in history and currently has the second-best record in the National League, but you only want to talk about one thing: Albert Pujols.

You know, the best player to put on a Redbirds uniform in the last half-century.

Your “hero” (that’s what you would’ve called him six months ago, right?) is playing abysmally in the first month of the young Major League Baseball season, hitting a meager .208 at the plate with zero home runs through 24 games for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This power outage from the game’s best player has become a national phenomenon and allowed you to ride the hate train for longer than expected.

He deserves this, after all. Right?

All he did was represent your stellar organization perfectly on and off the field for 11 years, compiling a Hall-of-Fame resume that includes three MVP awards, a couple Gold Gloves and nine All-Star selections. Oh, and he brought home the most coveted trophy in baseball. Twice.

But it appears as if you’ve already forgotten about those World Series victories and moved on to the greener pastures of inexplicable loathing.

It’s his fault, right? He’s the one who took the money over loyalty. He deserves this.

Think about this concept for a second: Baseball is a business. The Cardinals did not see the 32-year-old star as a good long-term investment for the club. They initially offered a deal that would make him the fourth-highest paid first baseman in baseball. The Angels offered more money and something that St. Louis didn’t: long-term security.

That’s all fine because the Cardinals probably made the right decision by not bringing him back on a lifetime contract for gobs of dough.

What’s not fine is your unabashed anger. Have you no shame, Cardinals fans?

The man took out a full-page ad in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thanking you for making his stay in St. Louis so great. He annually volunteered his time to various organizations across the city and gave back some of that big salary to those in need of financial support. He was a role model on the field, too, never getting suspended by the league and staying out of steroid circles.

He is essentially everything you could ask for from a star athlete, from a man representing your city.

That is why you are the bad guys, not Pujols. You have zero respect for a man who respected you and your city for more than a decade.

He is not Brett Favre. He is not Alex Rodriguez.

He didn’t pack his bags for a division rival. Instead, he traveled across the country to southern California and the American League, creating as little drama as possible along the way.

He is a solid human being who made a sound financial decision after his team decided they could not pay him what others could.

There is no reason to hate Albert Pujols or laugh at his struggles this season. If I were you, I would focus on the great team playing at Busch Stadium this year and avoid wasting energy on unwarranted vengeance.

Unfortunately, it looks like you are going to forget this winning season as quickly as you forgot the last 11.

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