An Albert Pujols Appreciation Blog

Shocking, though not terribly surprising news dropped on Thursday. The Los Angeles Angels announced that they would be releasing Albert Pujols. Pujols had been with the team since 2012, signing an at the time 10 year, $240 million mega deal.

Pujols, a missed nomination for the funniest names in sports, continued a completely understandable late career downtrend this season. Through 24 games in 2021, he is hitting .198 with a .622 OPS. For reference, his first year in LA he hit .285 and .859, respectively.

However, we are not here to kick Pujols while he’s down. Father Time is undefeated (unless you’re Tom Brady), so the declining numbers we’ve seen from Pujols is nothing short of expected.

We’re here to celebrate what may be the end of one of the most spectacular baseball players in the modern era. Hand up; I’m a Cubs fan. I think enough time has passed that myself and fellow North Siders can appreciate Pujols for what he was, an absolute tank who refused to not rip your heart out at any given moment.

Let’s just break this down. In his 11 years in St. Louis, Pujols hit 445 home runs, knocked in 1,329 RBI, maintained an 1.037 OPS, and was an unearthly 86.6 WAR. I’m not a math guy, but we’re looking at averages of about 40 HRs, 121 RBI, and 7.9 WAR. That’s an average year. Just bananas numbers.

Now, the numbers did dip once he left The Cardinals for the West Coast. Even so, the numbers are still pretty impressive for a guy entering the back half of his career. During his 10 seasons with The Halos, Pujols racked up 222 HRs, 783 RBI, a .758 OPS, and a 12.8 WAR. I won’t bore you with averages here, but you can see the production was still there.

A sure fire Hall of Famer, and seemingly a pretty good guy off the field. Albert Pujols deserves the appreciation from any baseball fan lucky enough to watch him in the past 21 years. If this is it, here’s to an incredible career.

Dear Baseball: Welcome Back, We Love You

Dear Baseball,

You made it. You’re back. Every year, Spring rolls around and you reappear in our lives just when we’re all at our wit’s end with Winter.

Your debut is upon us, and league-wide hope is at a premium. Spring Training has wrapped, and all thirty teams have traveled back home to start the long, arduous road to a pennant. The weather is starting to turn; summer is creeping around the corner, and with it, thoughts of cold beer and hot dogs dance in our heads.

Opening Day is a time and feeling unlike any other. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night thinking your alarm’s about to go off, to find you’ve only been asleep for an hour. It’s like taking out your contacts after a long day, or hitting every green light when you’re running late. It’s hard to exactly describe it, but have you ever found a $20 bill in your pants that you forgot about? That’s what it feels like having you back.

From Wrigley to Fenway, Yankee Stadium to Petco Park, let the hum of fastballs and pop of catcher’s mitts fill the air for the next seven months. Let the home runs fly out of Coors Field, pop ups die in the acres of foul territory at RingCentral Coliseum, and Bernie Brewer take all of the home run slides his heart desires.

Who cares if the pace of play is a little slow? Who doesn’t want to to piss in a urinal trough, pay $12 for a mini helmet full of ice cream that melts in five minutes, or step in dropped neon yellow nacho cheese while awkwardly scootching past eight of your fellow attendees all while squeezing into undersized seats in 98 degree weather?

We definitely don’t get embarrassed when our favorite players get injured in hilarious ways while playing a noncontact sport. We don’t care that you make a bunch of old men squeeze into baseball uniforms, or that your Hall of Fame voting is incredibly flawed, or that your fields of play aren’t equal in size like every other legitimate professional sport. No reason to complain about the fact that the DH rule isn’t universal, unwritten rules are dumb, and that hitting at this point is either home runs or strikeouts.

Baseball, we could not be happier that you are back.

Love,

Baseball Fans Everywhere

Who Wore it Best? 99-90

Photo: Dr. Odd

We’re kicking off a new series; and we’re going by the numbers. This countdown is dedicated to the best players of all-time by each jersey number. No concrete formula here, just career stats, impact on the game, and some good old fashion opinion. Let’s hop right in.

99 – Wayne Gretzky

Photo: LA Biz

He’s called “The Great One” for a reason. Hard to pick a favorite stat to demonstrate Gretzky’s dominance, but one of my favorites is that if he never scored a goal, he still would have had 11 straight 100-point seasons and won four scoring titles.

Honorable Mentions: Manny Ramirez, George Mikan, Warren Sapp

98 – Casey Hampton

Not a widely popular number, so not our largest name on the list. Appropriately nicknamed “Big Snacks,” Hampton made five Pro Bowls as the Steelers nose tackle in the early aughts.

Honorable Mentions: Jason Collins

97 – Jeremy Roenick

Maybe not the best guy, but a pretty good hockey player. The eighth overall pick in the 1988 NHL draft scored 1,216 points in 1,363 games played.

Honorable Mentions: Bryant Young, Cam Heyward

96 – Cortez Kennedy

Kennedy recorded 58 sacks in his 11 seasons for the Seahawks. He recorded 569 tackles and 11 forced fumbles.

Honorable Mentions: Metta World Peace, Tomas Holmstrom

95 – Richard Dent

A bonafide Hall of Famer who was a part of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the ’85 Bears. What more can you ask for?

Honorable Mentions: N/A

94 – Charles Haley

The defensive centerpiece of two all-time franchises in the Cowboys and 49ers.

Honorable Mention: Demarcus Ware

93 – John Randle

Anyone who goes undrafted in their respective sport and go on to become a Hall of Famer is good enough for this list. Randle made seven Pro Bowls and was a six time first team All-Pro selection en route to Canton.

Honorable Mentions: Pat Neshak, Metta World Peace

92 – Reggie White

Photo: Quotes Gram

“The Minister of Defense” was one of the greatest free agent signings of all time, when he left the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992 and signed with the Green Bay Packers. He finished his career with 198 sacks, two NFL defensive player of the year awards, and a Super Bowl ring.

Honorable Mentions: DeShawn Stevenson, Gabriel Landeskog

91 – Dennis Rodman

An obvious answer for a surprisingly strong number. But Rodman’s five rings, seven NBA All-Defensive first selections, and nearly 12,000 career rebounds puts him on our list.

Honorable Mentions: Kevin Greene, Sergei Fedorov

90 – Ndamukong Suh

Suh has had a late-career number change to 93, but he donned 90 early in his career for the Lions when he was arguable at his best. During his time rocking the big 9-0, Suh was the NFL Rookie of the Year, made four Pro Bowls, and was a three time NFL First Team All-Pro.

Honorable Mention: Ryan O’Reilly

High numbers, a lot of hockey players and defensive lineman, to be expected. Will we have some different sports and positions represented in our next set of jersey numbers, 89-80? Only time will tell.

Sunday State of Mind: January 25th-January 31st

Photo: wallup.net

If you’re reading this in the midwest, you’re likely experiencing apocalyptic snow. Grab a blanket, stay inside, and enjoy this week’s SSM.

A blockbuster trade in the NFL
A rare sight indeed, a cold day in hell
Jared Goff and Matt Stafford, a quarterback swap
The Rams on their way to the NFC’s hilltop

Another big name on the move this week
Nolan Arenado to Cardinals, Card fans freak
Nolan does have an opt out option after 2021
The NL Central hoping he’s one and done

The Brooklyn Nets have won four in a row
After a slightly slow start, the big three on a roll
They’re scoring 126 points per game during this recent hot streak
Unless you’re Philly or Milwaukee, in the East it looks bleak

The White Sox Hired Tony La Russa and…Yikes.

Woof.

The Chicago White Sox are one of the most young, exciting teams in baseball. They have a treasure trove of young talent not only on the major league roster, but still coming up through their farm system. The South Siders made the playoffs this year for the first time since 2008, but were eliminated in the first round by the Athletics.

Due to “differences of opinion” regarding analytics and strategy in general, the team relieved manager Rick Rentería of his duties after the season. In doing so, the Sox created for themselves a great opportunity to sign a dynamic, exciting manager to take this young group with an enormous skillset and lead them to a championship, right?

WRONG.

Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for your new manager of The Chicago White Sox….

This guy.

Tony La Russa: seventy-six year old, hasn’t managed since 2011, Tony La Russa.

As you’ll notice in the picture above, the man is a Hall of Famer, a fact you can’t deny. However, isn’t that a reason not to hire him? His last managing gig with the Cardinals ended when he retired nine years ago. Per Baseball Reference, La Russa holds a career record of 2,728-2,365 in 35 years of managing the White Sox (for the first time), Athletics, and Cardinals. He last managed the White Sox in 1986. One of the White Sox’s best players, Luis Robert, was born 11 years after, in 1997.

The White Sox roster is full of young, lively talent. Tony La Russa is a baseball dinosaur who has been in the sport since 1963, when he made his playing debut with Oakland. This enormous age gap can cause major issues. How does a man capture the attention and respect of a group of studs 50 years his minor? I just don’t see it.

Now, with as loaded of a roster as the White Sox have put together, this could very well work out. At some point, the manager of a baseball team simply cannot lose if he’s given the right combination and talent and potential. If you’re a White Sox fan, you can only hope your new geriatric leader lets his guys be themselves and take the next step that they clearly have enough talent to take.

Sunday State of Mind: August 10th-August 16th

Photo: Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash

Hello, and welcome to this week’s SSM.

The NBA playoffs are ready to go
The postseason tournament starts tomorrow
The champions will pop some champagne bottles
Big loss for the players though, no Instagram models

We already know The Masters have been pushed back
But come November, golf fans will be jacked
Unfortunately, Augusta announced this week
No fans due to COVID this year, not one in-person peek

The COVID ravaged Cardinals actually played a game!
Their first since July 29th, what a shame
They swept the White Sox in a double header
Hopefully lesson learned, and the players will be better

Ohio State QB Justin Fields, not a quitter
Started a MoveOn.org petition, asking the B1G to reconsider
A continued push of the #WeWantToPlay movement
If this petition goes anywhere, we could see some college football improvement

Sunday State of Mind: August 3rd-August 9th

Photo: Photo by Blake Richard Verdoorn on Unsplash

Happy Sunday, everyone. Please enjoy this journey back in time on the week that was in sports in this week’s SSM.

At the time of this blog, the PGA Championship is still live
DJ, Finau, Scheffler…who will survive?
To be completely honest, the most important thing though
Is the continued trolling, of Bryson DeChambeau

The Cubs and Cardinals, cancelled this weekend
St. Louis’ COVID positives have gone off the deep end
It’s the best rivalry in baseball, there’s no debate
Yankees/Red Sox? Giants/Dodgers? Not that great.

This week us NBA fans lost a good one
76ers standout Ben Simmons is done
According to this tweet, Ben had a left knee subluxation
He left the NBA Bubble, on a surgical vacation

Connor McGregor is engaged! The Notorious MMA.
Asked his girlfriend of 12 years, announced on Saturday
Seems like Connor’s enjoying his “retirement” so far
Engaged and staying out of trouble, no hitting old men in bars

Sunday State of Mind: July 27th-August 2nd

Photo: Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

Happy Sunday, dear readers…gently glide into your Sunday evening with this week’s SSM.

Bad news first, in the MLB
COVID is spreading, Miami and St. Louie
The Marlins and Cardinals, positive tests aplenty
Cardinals with six, Marlins with upwards of twenty

The list of NFL opt outs continues to grow
The pandemic drags on, and players won’t show
The Lions previewed, what may be the future of locker rooms
Hopefully this and other precautions work, as football season looms

Some non-pandemic news, from the NFL
Patrick Mahomes roots in KC further fell
The Super Bowl MVP, now part owner of the Royals
Ten year football contract and baseball team ownership, can’t say the man’s not loyal

The NBA is back, and in full swing
Full schedule and no positive testing, a beautiful thing
It seems in the bubble, things are going pretty well
The Association is thriving, while baseball is going to hell