Albert Pujols' departure from St. Louis deflated the city and left its beloved franchise high and dry. As Pujols' legend in St. Louis grew, it seemed impossible that the two could ever be separated, and Cardinal Nation loved him dearly. He was destined to be the next Stan Musial, a hero to the franchise and city.
Unfortunately, Pujols wearing the "Birds on the Bat," for the entirety of his career was not meant to be. Cardinal fans now have to deal with this reality, and whether it came down to the money, years or a no-trade clause, Pujols is gone.
Regardless of Pujols now sporting a new uniform, I will continue to root for him for the duration of his career. To some of my fellow Cardinals fans that is outrageous. However, those who think that, or act like Cleveland Cavaliers fans did when LeBron James "took his talents to South Beach," are quickly forgetting the many fantastic years Pujols gave St. Louis.
During his time in St. Louis, Pujols brought home two championships and three MVPs. Moreover, he won multiple Rawlings Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers and had arguably the greatest start to a career at the plate in MLB history. He hit for at least a .300 average, 30 home runs and 100 RBI for the first 10 years of his career.
Perhaps what I'll fondly remember even more are specific moments. Namely, when he knocked out the "I" in the Big Mac Land sign, hit the home run off Brad Lidge in the 2005 NLCS or hit three home runs against the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the crazy World Series run of 2011.
The St. Louis Cardinals are forever in debt to Albert Pujols for the glory he brought to them over the past 11 years. He brought them out of the shadow of Mark McGwire's steroid use, and turned them into a perennial competitor. Without Pujols, it's doubtful that the Cardinals would have won those two championships.
So, as Pujols moves forward as an ex-Cardinal, I will continue to root for him and hope that when he finally retires, likely the best to ever play the game, he enters the MLB Hall of Fame as a St. Louis Cardinal.
Being a proud member of Cardinal Nation, I am one of those poor folk that must deal with Pujols' departure. Anyhow, it will be easy for me, a life-long Cardinals fan, to continue loving and cheering for the Redbirds.
Those who disagree, well, I doubt that they were ever real fans, and instead, band-wagoners. That, to me, is a worse crime against the St. Louis Cardinals than Albert Pujols leaving. So, those fans can leave because Cardinal Nation and St. Louis, the home of "Baseball Heaven," does not need them.