Albert Pujols: A Man Amongst Boys

Sean WagmanContributor ISeptember 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 17:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Amid the hype and hoopla of NFL Kickoff this weekend, the MLB playoff races continue, albeit that most of the races are over at this point.  If you get the chance to at some point this weekend, though, do yourself a favor and take a really good long look at what Albert Pujols is doing for the St. Louis Cardinals right now. 

Even though it’s looking less and less likely that he’ll win the Triple Crown this year, he is still having another one of the great individual seasons in this decade (this is taking out any and all possible and definite steroid-enhanced seasons). 

Pujols will without a doubt be named NL MVP at the end of the season and it will once again bring up the question of how good he could be at the end of his career.

Many of the baseball experts have been very vocal about how good he actually is.  ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian has said more than once that Pujols could go down as “one of the top five hitters of all-time.”  Whoa.  It’s rare when someone is called a Hall of Fame-caliber player, but one of the best ever?

That is some truly amazing praise for a guy who in his career is hitting .334 and is quickly closing in on 400 career home runs, with a lot of years left in his career.

Of course, in this era in baseball, it goes without saying that all of this greatness is contingent upon whether or not Albert Pujols is clean.  I truly believe he is, and I think that just about every baseball fan hopes he is.

If Pujols were to be found out as a cheater, it would be an absolutely devastating blow to baseball fans, players, and the business of baseball, in general.

I look back to this summer when it was announced that both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were on “The List.”  That evening I called a friend and a big Red Sox fan and she literally cried on the phone when I brought it up.  Imagine the reaction in the fairly new Busch Stadium if it came out that Pujols was no better. 

All of a sudden, the Cardinals faithful would be eerily quiet, and some of them might be turned away from the game forever.  I only say that because that would be my reaction if I were to find out that the face of my franchise, Derek Jeter, were to be caught.  It’s something that you have to think about.

That aside, I was asked who baseball’s next hero was going to be a few months back and I immediately responded with “Go watch Albert Pujols.”  He is the rare kind of player that, at the end of his career, all fans will look at and say “That guy was great, one of the best.” 

Much like Cal Ripken Jr. and the Great (Tainted) Home Run Chase saved baseball after the 1994 strike, as Pujols approaches those records once thought to be impossible to surpass, he has the ability to lift the MLB out of the shadows of the Steroid Era.

There is no other player out there right now who is capable of such a feat.  So, if you can get yourself away from college football Saturday and NFL Sunday, just take a peek at one of the great athletes of our generation, I’m sure he won’t disappoint.  


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