Pujols still haunting Cubs with home run in 4-3 comeback win
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 4, 2013 11:47PM
Los Angeles Angels' Albert Pujols (5) hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs during an interleague baseball game Tuesday, June 4, 2013, in Anaheim, Calif. The Angels won the game 4-3. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Cubs-Sox makeup: July 8
The Cubs-White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field that was rained out May 28 will be made up July 8. Tickets and parking coupons from the postponed game will be honored only at the makeup game.
Updated: June 5, 2013 12:35AM
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two years ago, the Cubs gave Albert Pujols a hug. The Angels gave him $240 million.
That was the intersection point for a pair of franchises that went in dramatically different directions as the 2011 season came to a close. The once-big-market, big-spending Cubs cordially passed on the big boys as the Rickettses’ austerity plan took hold under the guiding, rebuilding hand of Theo Epstein.
The Angels, with the promise of a $3 billion local TV deal, spent like never before as owner Arte Moreno continued to chase the 2002 championship success of previous ownership — signing Pujols and $77.5 million pitcher C.J. Wilson in the 2011-12 winter, and $125 million outfielder Josh Hamilton last winter.
It hasn’t paid off in October yet, but in the Cubs’ first game against the Angels in three years, Pujols’ eighth-inning homer off Carlos Villanueva — for a 4-3 victory — offered a reminder of why so many Cubs fans seemed to rejoice over the hype of then-GM Jim Hendry’s hug of Pujols before a midseason game against the St. Louis Cardinals in ’11.
“People made a big deal about it,” Pujols said, smiling when reminded. “But that’s just who I am. This game comes and goes, but the relationships that you build will always stay there forever, until the day you die.”
Pujols, who knew Hendry for years through friends from Hendry’s college coaching days, still talks to the former GM once in a while.
“I have fun conversations with him,” he said. “He’s a guy I respect, and whether he was working for one of our rivals, to me I didn’t care. … He even sent congratulations to me when I signed here.”