This story comes from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch
Standing at his temporary locker this past week in Busch Stadium’s visitors’ clubhouse, San Diego infielder Manny Machado marveled at seeing Albert Pujols back in a Cardinals’ jersey to close his career. But he had a question — well, really more of a criticism.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “It’s kind of (bullshit) that teams are not giving him a farewell tour. I’ll tell you that right now. Why? Albert has been the best player in our generation to ever play this game, and to see him doing the things he’s doing — I mean, it’s just unbelievable. It’s freaking special that St. Louis gave him the opportunity to come back here and finish off his career as a Cardinal.”
Yeah man, what the hell? I think where this kind of stems from is the fact that baseball overdid it with the farewell tours for Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Derek Jeter hater. I acknowledge his defensive metrics are inferior. He's undeserving of his Gold Gloves, and in his last season at the major-league level, he was downright bad, but we're talking about one of the greatest shortstops of all-time. He deserved the sendoff, even if it was a bit overdone. At the same time, if we're ranking the careers of Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter, Jeter couldn't sniff The Machine's jockstrap. I've written a few blogs about the Cardinals this year because I find it odd how much this story is getting overlooked. Albert Pujols is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer. I think somebody who doesn't put him first ballot shouldn't have a vote, but that's a conversation for another day. Then you have Yadier Molina, who will stir up a fair amount of controversy but will ultimately get into the Hall of Fame, and yet it seems like the reactions to these two legend's final years in the major leagues have been a general "meh." Albert Pujols is arguably one of the ten greatest hitters of all time who has a chance this year to hit home run number 700. Where is the love?
If Pujols was still on the Angels or even the Dodgers, who he spent a majority of last season with, one could understand why his final season in the Major Leagues might not be getting the attention it deserves. But he's back with the team that he came up with. St. Louis was where he won three MVP awards, and while his numbers aren't great (a .692 OPS isn't exactly anything to write home about), he does technically have an above-average OPS+ for the first time since 2016, and he's playing for a competitive team. I think the Cardinals will be right in the thick of things come October. People say, "How can you not be romantic about baseball?" And they should, but it's also why it's so head-scratching that one of the most potentially romanticized stories of the Major League Baseball season just doesn't seem to be getting the attention it deserves. Good on Manny Machado for speaking out.