Monday, October 23, 2006

World Series with low pressure & forgiveness, head for haystacks of the midwest---NY Times

"The menu at Pujols 5 Grill in St. Louis reads like the gastronomic wish list of a comfort-food junkie: meatloaf and chicken pot pie. And then there are the chicken flautas, a dish that conjures the warmth of home in the Dominican Republic for the restaurant'’s owner, Albert Pujols.

"I like everything in there,"” Pujols said Saturday night. "“I go in every time I can."”

  • So if Pujols is surrounded by the carbohydrates of contentment, if he competes in a Midwestern baseball market as cozy as Linus'’s blanket, if he plays for an apologist manager who offers him unconditional love, if he is so swaddled in security, why does the great Albert Pujols seem in so much discomfort at times, so prone to tantrums and bouts of ungraciousness?"
(The author explains a recent personal loss as reason for his recent mood).

...."but his inner curmudgeon has been alive for several surly years. He is alternately aloof and irascible, but truly capable of charm.

Is Pujols spoiled by the generosity of others? He is the pride of a feel-good market, of the only team he has ever known. He has never felt a cold shoulder in St. Louis even when he struggled. He was hardly roughed up in the 2004 World Series, when he failed to produce a single run batted in as the Cardinals were swept by the Red Sox.

Imagine if he played in the land of air kisses and short fuses, of neurotic owners and high expectations.

  • Rogers and Weaver have never been happier— or more dominant— since finding their niche amid the haystacks of the heartland.
In St. Louis, there is an insistence on winning, but failure is treated more as a human character trait than a fatal flaw. That'’s why there is leniency for Pujols'’s cranky days. In giving Pujols a margin for human error, Cardinals fans have likely enabled his petulance but relieved the pressure.

Instead of a tight Pujols who flailed in the N.L.C.S., who withered in the 2004 World Series, he arrived in Detroit as a player without an excessive burden.

  • Pressure is playing in an unforgiving market.

One day, Pujols will understand what Rogers and Weaver have come to comprehend: Competing in the Midwest is gravy, another comfort food."

  • Most interesting items from article by Selena Roberts, NY Times, 10/23/06
(I'm happy for Weaver to get whatever good fortune he may find--events at the Yankees were not as much his fault as were circumstances. But unless Rogers wants to send fans of the Yankees and Mets a large check for his totally uncommitted performance here, he can take his emotional BS and hit the road). sm

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