"It goes by fast," Freese recounted Pujols saying. "So have fun with it."
By that point, Pujols had reached the playoffs for the seventh year. He had won a
Around baseball, the collective wisdom states that the more playoff experience you have, the better you'll perform. Read any postseason coverage or watch any preview shows, and experience (or the lack of it) will be cited as asset or obstacle. Some cling to this notion because it just seems to make sense.
"Yeah," Hamilton said. "Good answer. Next."
But baseball researchers and other
In other words, history says the Angels' young and untested players such as
"None whatsoever," said Manager
The Angels have plenty of games of postseason experience, but they come from a small number of players. Pujols has played 74 games, Freese 48 and Hamilton 34. Jered Weaver and
The big question mark is Trout, who is the game's best hitter but has yet to play in October. His past provides no other clues.
"I've never won," Trout said. "Not even high school."
Scioscia pointed out that his 2002 team wasn't experienced either. In fact, every player but one on the roster had no prior postseason experience — a grand total of 10 1/3 innings. And they won the World Series.
During Freese's dramatic 2011 postseason, when the
That first year he just got hot at the right time. The key was to "understand that it's not just baseball," he said, "but it is."
With that Cardinals team, Pujols was the guru, offering his knowledge to some, advising others not to force or change anything.
Pujols said it's part of a cycle. When he was a rookie in 2001, players such as Edgar Renteria mentored him. As Pujols became a veteran, he took
Now both Freese and Pujols can offer advice. Trout has already approached Pujols, and the message was to just be yourself.
Mostly, the goal is just to reassure beforehand. Once the games start, the players can find comfort in the familiar.
"They don't change the baseball, they don't change the distance of the base," Pujols said. "Everything is the same, so I think — hope — the young players and the guys that haven't been in this situation, hopefully they don't put too much pressure that they need to change their approach. The game is the same."
Pujols has a maxim he is fond of repeating. There are only three times, he says, he gets nervous playing baseball. The first is the initial at-bat in
After that, he says, he can just relax.
In 2001, Pujols' first postseason at-bat came against Curt Schilling. In the next game, the starter was Randy Johnson.
Surely then, it must have taken Pujols a series to feel comfortable, right?