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You Can Call Me Al

Albert Pujols got a better standing ovation at Cardinals spring training on Monday than most guys get their entire career

March 29, 2022

You might be the most extroverted, globe-trotting party animal on earth, but you still have to admit it feels good to come home. For the normies, that might mean the same four walls and a roof, but for professional athletes it’s not just a place—a city, a franchise—but also a time; that brief window of their careers when they were on top of the world and not even the sky seemed like the limit. We’ve seen these sports homecomings a few times in recent years—Cristiano Ronaldo back to Manchester United, LeBron James back to the Cleveland Cavaliers—but none was perhaps more powerful than Albert Pujols moseying out to a 90-second standing ovation at St. Louis Cardinals spring training on Monday:

Hours earlier, Pujols inked a one-year deal that will see him finish his career with the Cardinals. The news had barely even broke when he made his surprise appearance in Jupiter. If the crowd got a shock, however, just imagine how former (and now current) teammate Adam Wainwright must have felt when he woke up from a nap before his five-inning outing to this …

Charming stuff … that also just so happens to raise some questions about the Cardinals' roster construction this season. The signing of 42-year-old Pujols doesn’t exactly reduce the median age of the Cardinals, who already have card-carrying AARP members at several key positions. In other words, this team is old and they got even older on Monday.

Competively speaking, that’s not what you want to see from a blue-blood baseball franchise which, after a couple lean years, looked to be on the upswing last season. As far as emotionally? Well, you saw the video. Maybe everything will work out after all.