Albert Pujols wants to prove people wrong? About what?

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It takes a special kind of person to play the “no one believes in me” card after getting a ten-year, $240 million contract, but Albert Pujols is apparently that special.  From Bob Nightengale at USA Today:

“I always have that chip on my shoulder, no matter what kind of success I’ve had,” Pujols says forcefully. “This is going to be an extra chip on my shoulder that I’m going to have the next 10 years, maybe for the rest of my life. I don’t want to ever change that attitude.”

Pujols has a guaranteed contract from the Angels that will pay him $240 million over 10 years — along with another $10 million when he retires — but he wants to prove people wrong again.

Pujols says he has no hard feelings towards the Cardinals. He even says he’s cool if they want to give another player his old number.  So I guess that makes me wonder even more what the whole “chip on his shoulder” thing is.  I suppose it’s about some people criticizing the size of the deal he got, but way more people criticized the Prince Fielder and Joey Votto contracts than Pujols’.  Everyone agrees that he’s the best in the game and had a $200 million+ deal coming. And he got it.

But of course, Pujols is an incredible athlete, and it’s hard if not impossible for people who aren’t to understand what motivates incredible athletes. What makes them tick.  If it takes Pujols thinking that he has to prove anything to anyone at this point in order to continue being awesome, hey, more power to him.

Two great Mariano Rivera stories

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In addition to getting unanimous support from Hall of Fame voters, Mariano Rivera’s election is getting universal praise from fans and the baseball community. I mean, at least it seems so. If you see someone out there in the wild really mad that Rivera was elected, please, let me know. But don’t approach such people. They’re probably dangerously imbalanced and might cause harm to you.

From what we’ve seen, anyway, there is no one who doesn’t love Rivera and his election. That love has come out in the form of anecdotes people are sharing this morning. I’ve seen two that made me particularly happy. One “ha ha” happy, the other “aww” happy.

The “ha ha” comes from Michael Young, who shared the ballot with Rivera this year and whose Rangers actually beat Rivera’s Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. Not that they had much success against Mo:

Now the “aww.” It comes from Danny Burawa, who had a few major league cups of coffee after coming up in the Yankees system. From his Instagram last night:

In 2012, in the middle of my first big league spring training, I tore my oblique during a game (I wound up missing the whole season). First cuts hadn’t been made and the Yankees let me stick around to rehab with the big leaguers for a few days. The next day, after finishing my rehab, I returned to the locker room which was totally empty. I’m sitting at my locker getting ready to go home when in walks Mariano Rivera. Considering I was a nobody A-baller, I kept my eyes down on my feet and minded my own business. Next thing I know, he’s in the chair next to me, telling me his story, about failing as a starter, about an injury he had when he was younger, about how the setbacks we think are fatal usually end up as speed bumps on a longer, grander road. This is the greatest of all time, taking the time to cheer up a nobody, for no other reason than he thought it was the right thing to do. Great pitcher, greater human, congratulations Mo!

People use that “great player, better person” construction a lot. I often roll my eyes when I hear it because it’s pretty subjective and, I suspect, the “better person” part can’t be vouched for outside the subject’s friend or peer group. Doesn’t sound that way with Rivera, though. He simply sounds like a prince of a guy.