Remember when Allen Craig was caught stealing with Albert Pujols at the plate in the sixth inning of Game 5 of the recently concluded World Series?

Remember when Allen Craig was caught stealing with Albert Pujols at the plate in the ninth inning of the same game?

Those plays generated some controversy, but Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa defended the plays.

That wasn’t the case following a game that the Cardinals  won at home on May 23, 2010 against the Los Angeles Angels

The Cards were leading 9-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Albert Pujols was batting with Ryan Ludwick on first and two outs.

Inexplicably, Ludwick  took off for second.  Mike Napoli threw him out, just as he would do to Craig in the 2011 World Series.

Albert Pujols was beyond livid. He would not bat again unless the Angels scored four runs in the ninth inning.

Even if Ludwick, who had been caught stealing three times and had not yet stolen successfully during the young season, had reached second base, Pujols would bat with first base open. 

Yes, there was a runner in scoring position. How many of us think that perhaps Mike Scioscia would have walked Pujols intentionally?

Pujols flipped his bat and helmet on his return to the dugout. Then he smacked two trays of gum from the bench against the dugout wall.



Tony La Russa told Pujols:  “That’s enough.”

The disagreement became more intense, with La Russa telling Pujols: “I (expletive) know how to manage.”

The next day, the Cardinals were trailing the Angels 10-4 in going to the top of the ninth inning. La Russa replaced Pujols.

All managers try to rest their top player in games that appear to be lost, but in baseball, as in life, one never knows.

The Cardinals rallied and, thanks to a pair of Angels errors, cut the deficit to three runs with two on and two outs. Jon Jay, batting in Pujols’ spot, stuck out to end the game.

Pujols was not happy, but La Russa’s move was not unusual.

Baseball’s best player and, until he retired, baseball’s best manager, got along during Pujols’ 11 seasons. Flare-ups and disagreements are inevitable when two greats are doing everything in their power to win.

Pujols knows the game as well as any player in the game. La Russa, with the possible exception of Jim Leyland, knows the game better than any manager in the game.

Don’t be a conspirator. La Russa didn’t retire so that Albert would remain a St. Louis Cardinal.

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