Wife of Albert Pujols tells radio show: “the city of St. Louis has absolutely been deceived”

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“I understand you’re talking to us, then one TV station, and that’s about it,” is how Sandi Brown, morning show host at 99.1 Joy FM in St. Louis, opened her conversation Monday with Deidre Pujols, the wife of new Angels first baseman Albert Pujols.

“This is the moment of truth for us,” Deidre replied. “Four days have passed and most people are probably sick of hearing our name by now, but I’m ready to let people have our side of what has happened and be able to make better judgements.”

Before we delve into the topics discussed during the 39-minute interview, some background information is necessary. Joy FM is a Christian music radio station based in a western suburb of St. Louis that debuted this past July in place of “Classic 99,” a classical music offering that had been on the air for more than six decades. Joy FM recieved funding and pledges, during its inception, from the Pujols family and from former Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes.

Sandi Brown, the interviewer, is friends with Deidre Pujols, the interviewee. The chat opened with a prayer.

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Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million pact with the Angels at last week’s Winter Meetings in Dallas and was introduced as the club’s new first baseman at a kind of hybrid pep rally and press conference Saturday in Anaheim attended by over 4,000 fans. The deal also includes a 10-year personal services contract that will keep Pujols a member of the Angels organization in some capacity long after his playing days are through.

Pujols often claimed, near the end of his tenure in St. Louis, that he wanted to remain a “Cardinal for life,” in the ilk of the legendary Stan Musial. To hear his wife Deidre tell it during Monday’s interview, that claim was wholly accurate. Pujols did want to return to St. Louis this offseason. But then his mindset changed.

In a failed reading of the marketplace for the 31-year-old slugger, the Cardinals put forth a five-year, $130 million proposal earlier this winter. Some might call that part of doing business — every negotiation starts somewhere, and offers can be improved — but it struck the wrong chord in the Pujols household.

“When you have somebody say, ‘we want you to be a Cardinal for life,’ and then only offer you a five-year deal, it kind of confused us,” said Deidre, calling the offer an “insult.”

The Cardinals eventually improved their package, all the way up to 10 years and $210 million, but $30 million of that would have been deferred with no interest. In the Angels’ $254 million deal, nothing is deferred.

“I’m going to tell you what, listeners especially,” said Deidre, “had that offer been given to us with a guarantee (i.e. no deferred money), we would have a Cardinal on our bat.”

Deidre then hinted that the lack of a post-baseball commitment from the Cardinals also rubbed Albert the wrong way. He wasn’t offered a personal services contract like the one Angels owner Arte Moreno gave.

“Albert and I never, not one time ever, made plans to leave this city,” said Deidre. “We had no reason, not one reason, to want to leave. … People were deceived by the numbers.”

The rest of the interview centred largely around Mrs. Pujols’ faith and upbringing in Kansas City, and the both harsh and friendly comments she’s received from St. Louisans since the decision was announced on Thursday. But the main intention of the lengthy Monday morning discussion was to relay the message that Albert did not chase the Angels’ $254 million offer because of greed or money lust. Rather, it was about the Angels’ willingness to make a long-term commitment and the Cardinals’ reluctance to match that.

“It’s just like God,” Deidre told Brown near the end of the chat, “to put us on a team called the Angels.”

Brewers won’t punish Josh Hader for offensive tweets

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Some old tweets of Josh Hader‘s surfaced during the All-Star Game on Tuesday, containing offensive and hateful language. Major League Baseball responded by ordering Hader to attend sensitivity training and attend diversity initiatives.

The Brewers won’t punish Hader themselves, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. GM David Stearns says the club is taking its lead from MLB, which has already handed down its punishment to Hader. Additionally, the Brewers’ lack of punishment has to do with the tweets occurring when Hader was younger — 17 years old — and not involved with professional baseball.

Stearns also said of Hader’s tweets, “I don’t think they’re representative of who he is. I think they’re offensive. I think they’re ill-informed and ignorant but I don’t think they represent who he is as a person right now.” Stearns added, “I don’t know how he’s going to work through it. The truth is he has put himself in this situation. And he’s going to have to work very hard to get through it.”

Hader apologized on Wednesday, saying, “I was 17 years old, and as a child I was immature, and obviously I said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today.” Hader said, “I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said. I’m ready for any consequences that happen for what happened seven years ago.”

Lorenzo Cain, a black outfielder and teammate of Hader’s, said, “I know Hader; he’s a great guy. I know he’s a great teammate. I’m fine. Everybody will be O.K. We’ll move on.” Cain further defended Hader, saying, “We’ve all said crazy stuff growing up, even when we were 17, 18 years old. If we could follow each other around with a recorder every day, I’m sure we all said some dumb stuff. We’re going to move on from this.”

First baseman Jesús Aguilar also came to Hader’s defense:

However, Aguilar also retweeted a tweet from Scott Wheeler of The Athletic which had screencaps of Royals 2B/OF Whit Merrifield and Angels outfielder Mike Trout using the word “gay” pejoratively in tweets. Merrifield also used the word “retard” pejoratively.

The “he was 17” defense rings hollow. At 17 years old, one is able to join the military, get a full driver’s license (in many states), apply for student loans, and get married (in some states). Additionally, one is not far off from being able to legally buy cigarettes and guns. Given all of these other responsibilities we give to teenagers, asking them not to use racial and homophobic slurs is not unreasonable. Punishing them when they do so is also not unreasonable.

A study from several years ago found that black boys are viewed as older and less innocent than white boys. A similar study from last year found that black girls are viewed as less innocent than white girls. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Cameron Tillman, among many others, never got the benefit of the doubt that Hader and countless other white kids have gotten and continue to get in our society. When we start giving the same benefit of the doubt to members of marginalized groups, then we can break out the “but he was only 17” defense for Hader.

We also need to ask ourselves what our inaction regarding Hader’s words will say to members of those marginalized communities. Will it tell them that we value the comfort of those in power above everyone else? Will it tell members of marginalized groups that they are not welcome? In this case, it absolutely will. It communicates the message that, as long as you are white and can perform athletic feats, there’s no level of bigotry the league won’t tolerate. Furthermore, as the league and its 30 individual teams make more efforts towards inclusiveness with events like “Pride Night,” the inaction comes off as two-faced and hypocritical. This is why Major League Baseball — and the Brewers — should have done more to respond to Hader’s tweets.