ST. LOUIS, MO – At the risk of sounding like a bitter Yankee fan, 2011 seems like eons ago. Being a Cardinals fan, the past 15 months since winning the title has been a constant kick in the balls. First, Prince Albert decided to take his hardware out west where things like that are more accepted. Then, just when it looked like the Cards were prime to repeat as champions, they blew the NLCS in a fashion I can only describe as “inept.” Worse, the organization has done nothing except sign a guy that couldn’t even start for the Mets – free agent Ronny Cedeno. To add injury to insult Chris Carpenter, Cardinals leader all-time for post season wins, is out for the year with numbness in his shoulder. Realistically he is likely done for his career unless he takes an extended vacation to the Dominican to hunt for some deer antlers. Beyond the frivolous transgressions of the front office and Carp turning into a carp the real pain began on January 19th.
At the age of 92, our hero Stan “The Man” Musial passed away. Stan’s playing career spanned 22 years and 3 wars. He was one of the greatest hitters of all time and the greatest Cardinals player of all time… I could spout out millions of stats here but that is what Wikipedia is for.
His career did not end when he finished playing, though. He spent three years as Cardinals VP and left that position to be Lyndon Johnson’s Personal Fitness Advisor (he may have failed at this position). Shortly after that he was the GM for the World Champion team of 1968. After the 60’s he became a passive member of the Cardinal’s organization but always remained present when Cardinals Nation needed him the most. He was ever present at every charity function you could shake a stick at. He accepted superfluous interviews with grace, unlike other franchise legends that sought/seek them out like children clinging to schoolyard glory. His passion for the game was unparalleled and so was his character. Up until the very end he was regarded as being an upbeat, happy-go-lucky man that could put a light in anyone’s heart. Unfortunately the light in his heart burned out this past season.
Why would a man who has lived so long pass at such a time as this? Certainly he could have gone on a few more years. My personal theory is that Albert Pujols broke his heart. Albert was close with Musial. Right up until the end of the Pujol’s contract negotiations, Stan the Man could be seen on local television begging for him to stay. I think that when Albert left if proved to Stan that even in the best of hearts these days nothing is sacred anymore. If Albert Pujols, bastion of his community, amazing father to disabled children, leader of veterans, and mentor to prospects could sell out, then the game that he knew was gone…. Albert Pujols broke Stan Musial’s heart. The city of St. Louis can forgive a lot… That will never be forgiven.