Yesterday morning I saw a headline somewhere that said Albert Pujols had hit home run No. 496 in the Angels loss to the A’s Monday night.
I’ll admit it — I had no idea he was that close to his 500th homer. I’ll further admit to not really paying attention to how he’s doing this season, except for occasionally seeing tweets from someone who still does a “Pujols Watch” regularly.
This afternoon, I saw a link to an article in USA Today with the headline “As Albert Pujols nears 500 HRs, does anyone even care?” The point made by Bob Nightengale was more that steroids have tainted what used to be a sacred milestone, despite the fact only 25 players in MLB history have reached that total.
And while that point is certainly valid, as I was reading I wondered if Albert approaching homer 500 would be a much bigger deal if he was still a Cardinal.
Which is pretty much what I then read Fred McGriff say in the article too:
“I think we all thought Albert had a chance to hit 700 homers after seeing what he did in St. Louis,” says McGriff, “but it’s been tough for him out in L.A. Maybe that’s why he’s not getting the attention.
“I’m sure if he was still in St. Louis, they’d be blowing it up pretty good out there.”
Albert hit 455 home runs with the Cardinals, yet — due to injury last year and his struggles during his first season in Anaheim (Los Angeles of Anaheim?) — he’s only hit 51 so far as an Angel. He’s hit four in 14 games this season, which of course is the same number as Jhonny Peralta has hit and one behind his teammate Mike Trout.
And while I didn’t know Albert was near this milestone, I didn’t really care either. As I said, I haven’t really followed what he’s done this season. Actually, I didn’t much last year either. In 2012, I did at first — mostly because it was interesting to watch how poorly he began his Angels’ career. The part of me who always referred to him as “That Guy Who Used to Play First Base” whenever talking about him here at AMF was, like many I’m sure, glad to see those struggles. See, Albert? That’s what you get for leaving St. Louis …
Now, my attitude is more along the lines of “yeah, okay, that’s fine, whatever.” Sure, nice job — when you get there — of being just the 26th player to hit that number of home runs. But, as Bob Nightengale pointed out, those who used steroids to reach 500-plus homers ruined the exclusivity of such a club for everyone.
It really doesn’t seem like it means much now — no matter who gets there.
What about you? Did you know Albert was almost to 500? And, more importantly, do you care?
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.
Actually, we all should care. Five hundred home runs still remains historic, and taking the time to applaud honors a player who brought so much joy to us, and shows a little class on our part.