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And here I thought I was obsessive. Clearly, I’ve underestimated the media’s desire to make mountains out of mole hill-sized hugs.

In case you missed it (and you might of, because I gave it only a passing reference in a bullets post), Jim Hendry and Albert Pujols hugged on Tuesday. And then the world collapsed on itself.

The two have been friendly for years, have probably hugged a million times, and probably have friendly chats all the time that we never hear about. But because the two hugged in Pujols’ free agent year, when the Cubs might consider pursuing him, and did so in front of cameras, it was the biggest story this side of things that are, you know, actually newsworthy (Soto to the DL, Davis to the rotation, etc.). And now Jim Hendry is forced to scramble to squash the thing.

“Albert and I had always had a good relationship,” Hendry told ESPNChicago.com on Wednesday. “I think the world of him, and that has nothing to do with what type of baseball player he is. I have all the respect in the world for him, way beyond him being a great player, and he knows that.”

Like most thinking people, Hendry was surprised that the story took off in the national media.

“I guess that’s the world we live in,” he said. “I’ve had a certain relationship with him for most of his career, and that’s not going to change. Shame on me if he comes to town and we don’t have a chat. I’m honored that he considers me that close.”

As you know, Major League Baseball prohibits other teams from contacting players under contract about their current or future contracts. The notion that Hendry would not only contact Pujols about his upcoming free agency via a hug, but would do so in front of the whole world, is insane.

We get on Hendry’s case ’round these parts with some regularity, but one thing you’ll never hear us say is a cross word about Jim Hendry as a man. Over time, he’s showed himself to be nothing short of an excellent man whom anyone would be lucky to call a friend – including Albert Pujols. And Hendry isn’t going to risk that reputation by using that friendship to skirt MLB rules.

As much as you or I might like the idea of The Hug making Cardinals fans nervous, it shouldn’t. And it shouldn’t make us excited, either.

  • Michigan Goat

    Well said Ace, a hug is just a hug, it got on my nerves last night how much ESPN referred to it… Like they got a message every 10 min, “mention the hug”

  • Andy

    I was more interested in the handshake and good natured talking that Z and Pujols had earlier.

    Still I think we’ll end up with Fielder (or no big names) next year.

  • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

    I can’t wait until next winter when Hendry introduces Lance Berkman as our new first baseman. $16 million per year for 5 years. Player option for year 6.

  • Cardfan

    “…and in other news, Albert Pujols glanced “wantonly” in the general direction of the scoreboard tonight between innings. Several witnesses confirmed his gaze was unmistakedly fixed on the NY Yankees line score. Scoreboard operator, Bill Schlitt, was quoted as saying, “Clearly he is in talks with the Yankees – eyes don’t lie! Eerie, man, just eerie”. We are awaiting comment from the Yankee’s organization, however ESPN announced an hour-long special titled “Seeing the Signs – Pujol’s body language in 2011″. Stay tuned, more to follow…”

    • Matt

      This was actually funny – surprising coming from a Cards fan :P

      • Michigan Goat

        Agreed, but don’t give ESPN any ideas

  • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

    How about we steal Carpenter instead, and move Z to first base? Shore up his defense over the winter, then turn his bat loose in 2012!

    Am I the only one that gets excited whenever he bats? (last night’s game notwithstanding) when the Cubs have RISP and 0 or 1 out, Z is a guy I like to see up. Long flyball RBI? Double to the gap? Homer? The man is an animal at the plate!

    At the least I think he should coach batting practice once a week.

  • Cardfan

    Rinnnnnnnnng!
    AP: Hello?
    JH: Hey Al, this is Jim
    AP: Jim! How ya doing. Looking forward to seeing you in Chicago this week. We’re gonna kick your collective butts!
    JH: That’s why I’m calling, there is nothing left of my butt to kick. Been chewed off over the past couple years. I really thought Milt was going to stay on his meds!
    AP: How can I help, Jimmy?
    JH: Glad you asked, I had a thought…
    AP: Well?
    JH: I know that you are going nowhere. You will be a Cardinal forever. I am just trying to stick it out for the rest of the season before they send me packing. That being said, there is this wacky perception that you could sign with the Cubs after the season. If we could do something to foster that perception, people will know we are tight and think there may be a chance of you being Cubbie in 2012. Sounds crazy, I know, but I think it might work.
    AP: Jimmy, you know I am not going to say anything that isn’t true. I am sorry, but I can’t help. I feel sorry for you. If you and I were in the same room, I’d give you a big hug and tell you how much I care about you and your family.
    JH: Thanks Al, I appreciate your hearing me out. Perhaps we can catch up for a few minutes before the game.
    AP: See you then.

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