I’m a die hard Cubs fan and a proud member of the IvyEnvy podcast team.
One of the best rivalries in sports is the Cubs and Cardinals. Two working class cities with great fan bases that have a genuine competitive dislike for each other.
During last night’s broadcast, Corey had mentioned that Paul predicted Albert Pujols would get busted for juicing and all of us kind of generally agreed that we hoped that was not the case. I think we would all agree it would be bad publicity for a sport that is still struggling with image issues with regards to performance enhancing drugs.
I understand that some Cubs fans are born with the tendencies to hate all things St. Louis Cardinals. I also understand that when Mark McGwire got popped for juicing that a lot of these negative feelings were reinforced. But I can’t hate on Albert Pujols.
First of all, he’s phenomenal baseball player. He takes his defense just as serious as his hitting and he takes his job very seriously. He doesn’t drink a case of beer and then drive over people’s kids going 170 in a school zone hours before a big game either. I highly doubt you’ll ever see his mugshot on TMZ.com.
At the beginning of the 2010 season, Pujols currently ranks within the top 15 players in major league history in four statistical categories: On basee percentage (twelfth), slugging percentage (fourth), On base plus slugging (OPS; fourth), and adjusted OPS (tied for sixth). He also ranks in the top 500 players in major league history in a variety of statistical categories and is a three-time NL MVP. There are plenty more of these statistics that I could list, but there is no reason as anyone who is a baseball fan is well aware of his accumulation of impressive numbers.
I’m also a pretty big sucker for athletes who do charity work, as most of them either don’t do charity work or are just a front for a charity they are really completely unassociated with. Pujols has been very active in the fight against Down Syndrome, as his wife has a child from a previous relationship born with this condition. He uses his celebrity status to raise awareness about the disease and you have to respect the guy for that.
There seems to also be a school of Haterade swilling NL Central fans that think that Pujols had been or is currently using steroids. I happen to think these claims are garbage. Pujols has an incredibly sweet swing and his weight lifting regimen suggets that taking HGH would split his muscles in half if he continued to lift the way he does. I also respect the fact that he said that if he did get caught he would give all of his money back. Palmeiro swore in court that he had never used, but he wasn’t ready to put his earnings on the line to defend himself and Pujols did just that.
Now I hear a lot of this Pujols juicing stuff from a lot of “die hard” Cubs fans who drink too much and want to shift the blame from our consistently underacheiving team onto someone in the same division that has had huge success. So let me present this hypothetical situation to you as a Cubs fan:
Say under some very strange circumstance that Pujols tested positive with eight games remaining, and the Cardinals were ahead of the Cubs by nine games in the standings. Say the Giants finally learned how to hit (yeah right, but stay with me here…) and had already clinched the wild card with the Dodgers and the Phillies each wionning their respective division. Would there be any way that we could still make the postseason?
Of course there wouldn’t…it would just be another example of Cubs fans shifting blame in order to make up for our team’s shortcomings. All the whining in the world wouldn’t be able to get us to the playoffs because it wouldn’t change our unfortunate position in the standings.
It may be our nature as Cubs fans to have negative feelings towards all things Redbirds. But I just can’t envision a scenario where I would hate him.
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Editor’s note: While researching this article I discovered how AP had commented that he was happy for Ryan Howard and the $125 million extension he just signed. It’s that type of mutual respect that teaches young people involved in sports that good sportsmanship teaches other life lessons about commeraderie in the workplace and beyond.