Tom Ackerman

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – There’s nothing Lou Brock can’t put into perspective, it seems.  Spending time with the Baseball Hall of Famer is an eye-opening experience, every time.

Brock dropped by our KMOX studios today and chatted with me about the recent developments with Albert Pujols.

Since signing a ten-year, $254 million contract with the Angels, Pujols has been engaged in a he-said, she-said debate with the Cardinals on how the three-time MVP was treated during negotations.  It’s been a difficult time for the Pujols family – and for some vocal Cardinals fans who are angry about his departure.

Brock is planning on meeting with Pujols soon.  I asked him what he’ll say to the newest Angel.

“The first thing I would say is: ‘Relax,’” Brock said.  “Take a break from all of this.  And most of all, do not let your good deeds here in St. Louis be spoken of as evil because you went to Anaheim.”

Brock knows Pujols well.  He believes his friend was torn about the decision to possibly leave the comfort of St. Louis.

“I would say it was a hard decision for Albert,” Brock said.  “I still say the night before the decision was made, Albert had no idea what the decision would be.”

About a week before the Winter Meetings, Brock visited with Pujols.  He noticed that Pujols became somewhat uncomfortable when people around them would bring up the future.

“Albert, in his mind, was coming back to St. Louis,” Brock said.  “(But) every time somebody around us would mention that…he would just smile.  It was an indication that ‘I don’t want to talk about it – my body language may say one thing, but I’m really thinking another.’”

“But it actually was to stay in St. Louis,” Brock insisted.

Each year, Brock lines up on the field with fellow Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter and Whitey Herzog in their signature red jackets.  Cardinal fans always hoped that Albert Pujols would one day stand among them.

Brock believes that could still happen, as long as the Baseball Hall of Fame considers the 11 seasons in St. Louis as the most Pujols will play with one team.

“And I think St. Louis would certainly have that nod,” Brock says.  “So don’t discard the fact that Albert may one day stand there with a red jacket on.”

How many years of baseball does Pujols realistically have left in him?

“I think Albert is on the mountaintop,” Brock said.  “How long can he sustain being at the top of his game?  I would say he has a good six or seven years left. 

“The decline can start — and will start — on the other side of the mountain,” Brock notes, “but you’re talking about six or seven years away.  That’s a long time.”

The Cardinals franchise began in the late 1800’s.  The legends have come and gone: Hornsby, Dean, Musial, Schoendienst, Gibson, Brock, Smith.  And now Pujols.

The franchise existed before them; it will endure long after them.

“Heroes are born just about every October,” Brock said.  “In the Cardinals’ case, they always have the ability to pull somebody in who can take up the slack.

“And time tells us that in the game itself, people (have) the love of the game,” Brock continued.  “They come out and cheer — the same cheer they did for Babe Ruth.  You heard it with Musial.  You heard it with Albert.   You heard it with McGwire.

“And that future guy who hasn’t shown up yet?” Brock asked, eyebrows raised.

“He will have that same cheer.”

Tom Ackerman is Sports Director at KMOX.  He can be heard weekday mornings at :15 and :45 past the hour on “Total Information A.M.”  Follow him on Twitter: @Ackerman1120.