5.31.2006

On Albert Pujols

In the age we live in, we should all feel blessed that we have Albert Pujols playing professional baseball. Overshadowed by Barry Bonds his entire career, he has put up some of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of baseball as quietly as anyone could, and has never ever complained about not getting his due. That is because he embodies the true spirit of a baseball player, a person who gets paid to play on the field and then feel grateful that he is getting to play a game for a job, and can make more with a high school diploma, or less, than the CEOs of some companies. Now putting up unparalleled seasons, leading your team to the summit of baseball success, and receiving no accolades for these endeavors could leave some irked, but it seems that that is the way that Albert likes it. By not being in the ESPN spotlight 24-7, he is able to go along his merry way, which right now appears to be a path that, in this media age, no one has ever traveled before.

Albert Pujols should have been the NL MVP every season he has played at the major league level. His numbers dictate that much, regardless of team success, which in his case, only strengthens his candidacy. But Albert has one only one MVP award, and it was a highly contested battle. Last year Pujols should have been voted MVP by a unanimous decision. And though Derrek Lee and Andruw Jones had career years, they were nothing in comparison to an average Pujols campaign. While Lee hit .335 with over 40 home runs for a average Cubs team, and Jones hit 50 bombs and was the veteran leadership to a division winning team that was playing in Richmond, VA a few months prior, he hit in the low .270s. Pujols single-handedly was the offense for a team whose lineup was decimated by injuries, and yet still won 100 games. People barely noticed, and essentially gave Albert the MVP by default, feeling that the other two candidates did not have résumés worthy of the award, and they were right, but, somehow, the vote was still close.  

People take Pujols for granted. Like in the case of last years voting for MVP, people just assumed that Pujols would always have seasons that were career years for some of the best players in the major leagues. The voters figured that Jones and Lee might never be considered for the award again, and that Pujols, who did nothing extraordinary, by his standards, would have a room dedicated to all his MVP trophies later on in his career. No other great player has been treated this way, ever. Barry Bonds won the MVP ward over Pujols three straight years, and no one ever claimed that they should give the kid the award because Bonds already had his fair share. Pujols didn’t even have the fair share when people started taking him for granted, and that is just not fair to the game or to him, though he is such a class act that he would never even comment on the topic, much less bring it up.

I suppose what irks me most is that no one has noticed that Albert Pujols is possibly the greatest hitter baseball has ever seen, and all the people at ESPN and others care about is Barry Bonds, a cheater. Bonds doesn’t deserve even a glimpse of the spotlight after what he did to the game, but the major sports media outlets play right into his little charade. Bonds on Bonds, and the chasing Ruth segments every 10 minutes on sportSCenter seem to give credence to Bonds’ selfish, juvenile, and self-pitying lifestyle. That whole fiasco where he wept, trying to convince the American public who watch his show, which, forgive my stereotype, are already suckers, that he was being mistreated was a complete farce of the situation, where the game of baseball and its fans have been mistreated, and in my opinion defecated upon by Bonds, the Balco situation and the entire steroid era. No one deserves that from a game that people are getting paid an extraordinary amount of money to play, and fans are paying more than a nickel for seats.

There is hope in baseball, and it lies in Barry Bonds knees, and Albert Pujols bat. If Bonds were ever to pass Aaron, it will become nearly improbable that baseball’s image would be able to recover. Albert Pujols is the final hope. He can do for baseball what it needed less than ten years ago: a home run chase. Pujols could shatter the inflated records naturally, a feat that is more inconceivable than it is perceived. Pujols would knock Bonds off the top, and restore dignity and honor to the single season record, and if Bonds were to somehow pass Aaron, well, maybe Pujols will clean that mess up as well.

Not only is Albert Pujols a magnificent, 1 of a kind player, who is never recognized for what he has done thus far. The question is, will Albert be recognized when he saves baseball?

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