After going 0-for-3 in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols told the media that Mets starter Tom Glavine "wasn't that good," despite the 40-year-old left-hander throwing seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over St. Louis.
The tabloids blew up the quotes for Friday's newspaper editions, irritating Pujols' manager, Tony La Russa.
But a day later, Pujols stood by his impression of Glavine's performance.
"Is that what I said?" Pujols said shortly before Game 2 on Friday night. "OK, then. Keep that one."
La Russa appeared irritated with the way Pujols was portrayed. When asked before the game if he was upset about how Pujols' quotes appeared in the media, La Russa, known for vehemently defending his players, suggested the comments were made in the heat of the moment.
"You get a guy who's a hot competitor. As soon as it's over, he's not happy about losing," La Russa told a pair of reporters in the tunnel of the Cardinals' dugout. "So he makes a statement. It's not a good statement. Glavine deserves credit. Now it gets blown up like he's some kind of disrespectful pro."
La Russa also suggested Pujols might stop talking to the media.
"The answer is, [if] that player's not talking then they'll never be embarrassed, right?" La Russa said. "And they'll complain, say, 'Oh, he won't talk to the press.' Somebody takes a guy, right after the competition. They're very vulnerable to say something."
La Russa became agitated when a reporter then asked him if Pujols should have known better.
"No!" La Russa shouted. "You guys should know better than to make a big issue out of it. This guy's a great pro. That's what the answer is. Use some common sense."
Pujols was last season's NL MVP and this year is considered one of the favorites for the award. He hit .333 with one home run and three RBI in the Division Series against San Diego before going hitless in Game 1 of the NLCS.
Amy K. Nelson is a writer/reporter for ESPN The Magazine.