Griffin: Someone's in the kitchen with Albert
ARLINGTON, TX--Less than 24 hours after messing up a key ninth inning cutoff play in Game 2 of the World Series, a 2-1 loss against the Rangers and after being seriously ripped by media in print, on TV and radio, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, following his team's off-day workout, lashed out against the unfair treatment he feels he has received, claiming he was dressed and in the clubhouse kitchen having a post-game bite to eat, not avoiding the press.
“If somebody wanted to talk to me about that play why didn't they try to come and approach me or ask Brian," Pujols said. "Brian Bartow, the media guy, is right there and you know it. He's right there, okay. He's right there. As soon as you guys walk in, he's the first guy that's right there as soon as Tony's done talking. So there's no excuse. If somebody wants to ask me, you guys didn't see my clothes there. I was in the lunch room. If somebody would say, 'Hey, is Albert around?' Right away, 'Yeah, he's over there.' 'Okay, they need you.' Alright, I'll go talk to you."
Pujols had been the cutoff man behind the mound on a key single by Elvis Andrus, as Ian Kinsler flew from first to third, rounding the bag hard and slamming on the brakes. The throw from a charging Jon Jay in centre field bounced once on the infield grass and deflected off Pujols glove with Kinsler diving back to third and Andrus scooting into second base as the ball rolled away. Pujols later was given an error and both runners scored, providing the margin of victory.
“I took my eyes off it," Pujols admitted. "I think it was an error. It had to be an error. It hit my glove so it would have to be an error. You want to blame me for that that we lose the game, go ahead and blame me. I don't care. It is what it is. You have to stand up.
“I wasn't even looking at Jay, where he was going to throw the ball. A lot of people teach different. What I learned is when that ball's hit to centre field you need to look at the runner because you're going to have the chance to cut that ball. And as soon as I turned and I saw that big turn on Kinsler, I knew I had a chance if I cut the ball if I throw right away to third base, maybe I have a chance to make that play. He took that big turn, obviously I took my eyes off the ball and missed it."
Pujols was angry at the press. The night before, following Game 1, he had answered questions well after the game in front of his locker, but that was a win. As a leader of the Cards' clubhouse there are a lot of players that follow his example. They can say 'If only speaking when things go well is good enough for Albert, hey, it's good enough for me.' Pujols does not see it that way.
“The way you guys are ripping me off I guess I need to stay in the clubhouse tomorrow until you guys decide to talk to me," Pujols said, voice dripping with sarcasm. "My responsibility I have is to God and my family. I don't have a responsibility with anyone else. And I try to do the best that I can to represent the game of baseball, I do that. I mean sometimes I make a mistake.
"Did I feel good last night when I made a mistake? I don't think so. I was waiting and nobody approached me. I mean, what can I do? There's nothing I can do. I did it against Philly then I did it against Milwaukee. Now it's the World Series, somebody wants to make that a big deal. That's what I don't understand. That's no fair, you know. I did that against Philly. I did that against Milwaukee. All of a sudden, it's the World Series, big stage, somebody wants to make a big deal about it. Come on guys. I don't think that's fair you know."
The World Series is the marquee event of major-league baseball and for 10 days players are asked to cooperate with the Commissioner's Office and make themselves available for the media. Players are asked to enjoy the experience and part of it is the media crush. If a player stands in front of his locker as soon as he is ready after a game, the clubhouse clears out more quickly and it's a benefit for all of his teammates. Players notice. It's expected of every team's superstars.
“I got home at one o'clock the night before," Pujols said. "I give you guys an hour to the media. I give it to you guys in English and Spanish and you try to rip somebody's reputaton for something like this, I don't think it's fair. But you know what, I don't throw rocks at you guys. You guys are human. You guys are going to make mistakes just like I did. It's part of the game. That's the way it goes sometimes. It's hard to understand, but there's some days like that."
There are many areas of a major-league clubhouse that are for players only, many places to get intentionally lost. When the media was allowed into the losing clubhouse after Game 2, Pujols clothes were gone from his locker and there are writers that stayed in the Cards clubhouse that still believe he had really gone when he said he was fully dressed and in the kitchen, willing to talk.
Game Three is Saturday night with the Series tied at a game apiece. Hopefully this incident is behind him and the focus will be on playing baseball.