With Pujols up to bat in the eighth inning with two outs, La Russa had Ryan Ludwick attempt to steal second base. The Angels catcher threw Ludwick out, the inning ended and Pujols stormed off the field where he threw his bat and helmet and "smacked two trays of gum."
The outburst drew an immediate response from La Russa who scolded his player, saying: "I know how to (expletive) manage!"
The incident has since generated headlines all over the country not because it's a particularly outrageous story -- managers rebuke players all the time -- but because someone dared to criticize Albert "The Great."
But the truth is, Pujols is not so great these days. In fact, he's worthy of some criticism -- or at the very least an examination. (I'm thinking a sports psychiatrist.)
After a fast start to the season, Pujols batting performance has suffered a smack down of its own in recent weeks. Last year's MVP is batting a mortal .256 this month with just one homer and ten RBIs. Over the past eleven games his offensive numbers are even weaker -- a .222 average and two extra-base hits.
Given what we've come to expect from Pujols (and what he expects of himself, too) it's no wonder that the slugger may have been surprised -- even angry -- when La Russa decided to have Ludwick steal. Such a move clears up first base for the pitcher to walk Pujols. It also sends a message that TLR has little confidence in Pujols hitting an extra-base hit that would score Ludwick from first.
With so much of the Cardinals off to a slow start offensively (Holliday, Ryan, Schumaker), La Russa knows the club can't afford for Pujols to go in a prolonged slump. Hopefully, Friday's decision was the wake-up call Pujols needed. There's certainly no disputing that El Hombre got the message.
See a counter-point to this post here
: The views expressed herein should be construed
only as argument for the sake of argument, and not as the personal
opinions of the authors. In fact, the authors' positions in "Tuesday
Tussle" are decided by coin toss.
If you haven't heard by now, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had the audacity to ,um, manage his team Friday night. It didn't sit well with Albert Pujols.