Something told me Albert Pujols would not be returning to St. Louis when the dust finally settled in the free agent bidding war that would surely follow the 2011 baseball postseason. Sure, I really got tired of hearing the sportscasters say over and over again, “this may be the last time we see Albert in a Cardinal jersey.” But in my heart I knew, despite the amazing wildcard comeback, division championship, league championship, and World Series bid, when this season and postseason were over, Pujols would be leaving. That’s why I feel especially blessed to have been able to attend game seven of the World Series with my son Tim to see St.Louis win it all and watch Pujols play his final game for St. Louis.
Now we know that Pujols will be playing with the Angels having managed to land the elusive ten-year contract with a no trade clause (he stood to make millions no matter where he landed). Angel fans are pinching themselves and Card fans are in shock. At a time like this the throngs of Cardinal nation will begin to vilify the front office for their failure to sign Pujols or lash out at Sir Albert for abandoning baseball heaven for the City of Angels. But there is something more fundamental at play here than just contracts, money, and sports politics – a man’s sense of God’s path and plan for his life.
In my lifetime I cannot remember hearing about a top shelf athlete in any sport actually spending a sleepless night seeking God’s will for the next season of his life. By 7:30 a.m. the morning of his decision Pujols was quoted as saying that the Angels were tugging on his heart and that he believed God was leading him to make the move to Anaheim. The Bible says that “the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord” (Psalm 37:23). The Scripture speaks of the path as something that gets brighter and brighter for the righteous and darker and darker for the wicked (Proverbs 4:18). These eternal principles apply even to ballplayers even if the fans don’t like where that path is leading.
The pundits will say it was all about the money. The sour fans will bellyache about being betrayed by his decision. But as for me, a lifelong Cards fan and spiritual leader, I am encouraged by yet another example of Sir Albert’s firm conviction to glorify God with his life. Sure the sportswriters will moan about how he is not the greatest at fan interaction and they tire about hearing of his commitment to charities that support mentally and physically challenged children, but he has proven time and time again that he lives by a consistent set of Christian values that everyone should honor and appreciate. May more Christians be so bold as to remember they are on this earth to do God’s will and honor Him wherever His path in life takes us.
In the end, it does matter where we do what we do. Albert seems to get this very critical Kingdom principle even though many Cards fans and many believers do not. So whenever I get the chance to see Sir Albert play on television on the rare occasion live in an American League ballpark, I’ll be cheering for the man of God more than for the Angel in the infield. He is more of a hero to me today than any time I had the privilege of seeing him wear the Cardinal red. Well played Sir Albert.