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.