Cubs: Fans express mixed feelings as Cardinals greats depart
Jon Leiber took the mound for the Chicago Cubs when Albert Pujols played his first game at Wrigley Field on June 5, 2001. This would the first of 100 career games that Pujols would play at the corner of Clark and Addison. He played his final game at Wrigley this week and was given an official sendoff by the Cubs, along with teammate Yadier Molina. Cubs fans were not all pleased to see the two Cub killers get a warm ceremony, some bringing up the fact that Sammy Sosa has yet to get that honor. Regardless, it happened.
Longtime Cubs rivals Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina leave Wrigley Field
2000 marked the last time the Cubs faced a Cardinals team of which neither Pujols nor Molina were part of. Molina has been in St. Louis since 2004 and Pujols was a Cardinal from 2001-2011 before returning this year. The two played a combined 223 games at Wrigley Field, and you can add an extra two postseason games for Molina.
Certainly, North Side fans do not want to get nostalgic over this. There was no player Cubs fans dreaded seeing at the plate more in the 2000s than him. Pujols hit 30 homers over the ivy-covered walls in his career, while slashing .292/.393/.600 with a .993 OPS. The boos and hisses were often quieted by back-breaking hits that sunk the Boys in Blue. There was a lot of relief in 2012 when he signed a huge deal with the Angels.
Molina, on the other hand, hit only .233/.288/.341 with nine home runs at Wrigley in his career. Not to say he did not come up big against the Cubs at Wrigley, turning cheers into groans. Just not quite the same rate as Pujols. He also was part of the infamous “St. Louis is boring” spat that began when Kris Bryant made a joke at Cubs Convention a few years ago. He will probably be most remembered in Chicago for that.
Miss them or not, it is the end of an era. It was somewhat surprising that Pujols only hit one home run in this five-game series. After hitting the game-winning shot in the first game, it felt like he was primed to hit multiple bombs over the series as one last farewell gift to the Cub fans. However it was not to be. Goodbye, Pujols and Molina. Respect on your great careers…but we won’t miss facing you.