Sunday, June 4, 2017

Right feat, wrong stage

Albert Pujols hit a grand slam for his 600th career home run last night, and the sound of crickets was loose upon the land.

You might have heard about it. I might have heard about it. But the guy down the street?

He was watching the Predators lump up the Penguins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

So why the comparative lack of hoo-ha and hullabaloo over Pujols' feat?

The Blob has a theory. Actually two.

One, 600 is still a milestone, but it's no longer a Milestone. Once upon a time, you could count the number of players who'd hit 600 home runs on one hand; now it takes two. Pujols is the ninth player in baseball history to reach 600. If baseball worships at the altar of its numbers, that's the relevant number here.

And the other theory?

He did it in the wrong uniform.

If Pujols were still wearing Cardinals' colors, see, the city of St. Louis would have been turning itself inside out in celebration of all things 600. This is because St. Louis, as it obsessively and pain-in-the-ass-edly reminds us, is one America's great baseball cities.  So Pujols closing in on 600 would have been a huge, stop-traffic kind of deal.

But Pujols chose money over substance when he signed with the Angels, and last night we saw the cost. The Angels, after all, are no one's idea of an iconic baseball franchise. Their fan base hardly counts as one when compared to that of the Cardinals. And their place in the universe of baseball, consequently, is pretty much no place at all -- even in California.

The Angels, after all, aren't the Dodgers or the Giants. They're just the Angels.

So, yes, of course, Pujols would have gotten goo-gobs more pub for No. 600 if he were still in St. Louis. His paycheck got fatter when he went to the Angels, but the tradeoff was to vanish almost completely from the national radar. Seriously, when was the last time you thought about Albert Pujols? How many of you were even aware he was still playing? And do you think that would be the case if he were still a Cardinal?

Of course it wouldn't.

And so congratulations on No. 600, Albert. Too bad its sense of occasion went flying off with the Angels.

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