ST. LOUIS -- The questions continue to pelt Albert Pujols like the cold rain of early autumn: Has he taken moments here and there during this postseason to soak in the sights and sounds of what could be his final days as a Cardinal?
His answers remain steadfastly the same: No, he isn't thinking about his impending free agency right now, hasn't thought about it since addressing the matter this spring. And can we please talk about the World Series now?
But here's the thing: You know Pujols can't help but be thinking about it because of his incredibly classy gesture in Milwaukee on Sunday.
When Prince Fielder stepped in to lead off the bottom of the eighth with the Brewers trailing 12-6, Pujols called time from first base in an effort to extend the standing ovation Fielder was receiving from the Miller Park crowd.
It was a gesture that got lost in the post-game champagne as the Cardinals clinched, which was too bad. Because it shouldn't have been.
"I've been in that situation here with the best fans in baseball, and I wanted Prince to have the same feeling that I have here, and the same chills," Pujols said when I asked him about it as the teams worked out Tuesday preparing for the World Series opener Wednesday. "I wanted him to have almost the same tears that I have when I have the standing ovation from our fans in my last at-bat, at least they thought that was going to be my last at-bat here in Busch Stadium at that time.
"And I wanted to make sure that Lance [Lynn, St. Louis pitcher] gave Prince a really good opportunity. I think what Prince has done for the organization and for the city of Milwaukee, what he's done in turning the organization around, is amazing. I just wanted him to have his moment. That was his moment.
"At that moment I didn't look at the scoreboard, I didn't look at who was winning or losing. At that moment, I was looking at the person, at the guy who deserved that standing ovation. I wish it would have been a little bit longer. I tried my best. That's how much respect I have for him and the Brewers and those guys."
In a rare philosophical mood Tuesday, Pujols continued.
"I thought it was the right thing to do," he said. "It didn't matter what uniform you were wearing. Things like that, seeing Jeter get his 3,000th hit, seeing the standing ovation that the Yankees fans gave him, those are moments you can't replace. Those are moments that you always are going to take with you and I wanted him to have that opportunity just like I have here."
I still think Pujols will re-sign with the Cardinals this winter.
But if not, this is one of the longest goodbyes on record. Busch Stadium fans cheered for Pujols on the final Sunday of the season when it appeared as if that would be his final home game of 2011.
Then they cheered him in Game 4 of the Division Series in case the Cardinals were eliminated by the Phillies in Game 5.
Then they cheered him in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series in case the Cardinals didn't come back alive from Milwaukee.
Now, the next potential Pujols' farewell at-bats in Busch could come in Game 2 of the World Series here Thursday ... or in Game 6 or 7 here next week.
For now, Pujols is just concerned with attempting to win his second World Series ring in his third Fall Classic appearance with the Cardinals. They were swept by Boston in 2004, then they beat Detroit in 2006.
The big question is how the Rangers will pitch Pujols, who has taken six walks -- including two intentional passes -- so far this postseason.
"I don't know," said Pujols, who is hitting .419 this postseason with two homers and 10 RBI. "Hopefully, I can have the same series I have against Philadelphia and Milwaukee. I'm very patient at the plate, I know that I have great players in front of me and behind me who are going to be able to do damage.
"My main goal is to go out and if I get a good pitch to hit put my best swing on it. And if not, try to take my walk. That's something I've been doing the past two months that I wasn't doing earlier in the year."
Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: October 19, 2011 4:57 pm
Focused Pujols appreciating the moment
Since: Sep 28, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 3:45 pm
Focused Pujols appreciating the moment
Since: Oct 17, 2011
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:50 pm
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