It was after midnight last night when we finally announced “cat treats for everyone!” The Reds blew an 8-0 lead to take 8-7 into the top of the 9th in St. Louis. I don’t hide the fact that I think the closer position is overrated and that I’m not particularly fond of our closer, Francisco Cordero. I will interject that in interviews, he seems like a good guy and he is a good pitcher, just not the great pitcher a closer is supposed to be, few closers are. Well, although I pleaded to the TV, “Dusty, the lead is too close to put Cordero in now!” Dusty Baker put Cordero in and the first hitter he faced went yard to tie the game. It was the top of 13 before the Reds got back on top and closed the Cardinals out in the bottom for the victory. The Tigers’ afternoon win and the Red Sox win before Wednesday ended meant the girls cold finally have their bonus cat treats!
Now I want to talk about Albert Pujols. I’m having some difficulties with Albert right now. Last night was his return from the Disabled List. He spent 17 days on the DL after breaking a bone in his wrist. He was supposed to be on the DL 6 weeks. Boy, in baseball, that’s just rumors as ready to spread as Nutella on hot toast.
When they were talking about Pujols returning to the lineup it bothered me. It didn’t bother me that he was returning during the series against the currently struggling Reds. I still have faith that their struggles are temporary and you want to beat your opponents at their best with their best players in the game. No sandbagging like hockey. In baseball, if you can beat them in the regular season, you can face them in the playoffs. Only having 8 teams that make it to post season, you have to truly earn the right to be there in October to begin with. As a fan, I want the star players to be there on the “other side” doing their very best. It makes a loss sting a little less and victory that much sweeter. What bothered me was the 17 days part.
I like Albert Pujols, I really do. He is an amazing player. Now part of my “adopting” rookies, is that I am faithful. When I adopt a rookie, I’ll vote for him in the All Star game every year until the end of his career. That means that Albert no longer has a chance at getting a vote from me, except maybe as a write-in for DH for which they don’t allow NL fans to vote, because Joey Votto will get the first base vote over Albert as long as they’re in the same league now, but Pujols got some votes from me prior to 2008. So this concern is not coming from someone who is anti-Albert or even anti-Cardinals. I just have some feelings I don’t like.
How does one heal from, a broken bone so fast? If it turned out that it really wasn’t a break, just a bad sprain or bone-bruise, it would completely answer any questions or suspicions people might have. But no one has said that. So there is speculation, some of it definitely tainted with the nightmares of the steroid era and the many records that were cheated into by players who faked the range of their talents. Human Growth Hormone would make an injury miraculously heal, especially in an athlete who has an intense strengthening regimen. Then there’s also the idea that in a year where no new contract was ready to go at the beginning, he has to get back on the field to show his worth to the team, or any other team that might be looking. He could be back out there but not completely healed. I don’t want to think of Pujols as either a cheat or stupid. Of course, HGH is both, given the testing that MLB does now.
One other thought. When we’re talking millions of dollars, how easy is it to find a doctor who will say that there is a break, even produce an "x-ray," when there really isn’t? A fake injury and a miracle early come-back might help boost the value on the market too. That might be the worst possible explanation of all. To take a two-week vacation from you team and fans for money? It’s especially bad for him because if that were the case it backfired. He makes his miracle return to a team that was holding the top of the division without him.
In all of this, we have the assurance of what a hard worker he is and that his true love for the game drives his work to recover from his hitting coach, Mark McGwire. McGwire’s love for the game and hard work drove him to lie about his own steroid use. Not so much what I’d call a reliable source to defend him.
In this day in baseball, no matter who you are, no matter what your level of “love for the game” or how miraculous your NATURAL ability to heal truly is, if the doctors have announced that you’ll be out for 6 weeks, sit your butt out for the 6 weeks. It draws suspicious attention to your whole team when you return in a third of the time it was supposed to take you to heal. Under your current contract, you still get paid and for the “love of the game” why would you want to sow a garden that is fertile to reap speculation that hurts the game? If it’s just about the money next year, is what you potentially do to your name and your teammates really worth a few more million dollars when you already have more millions than you can count?
I’m not the only one who is suspicious about Pujols’ return. Check these out:
http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/7/5/2259878/albert-pujols-injury-st-louis-cardinals-news#comments Make sure you read the comments too!
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AnJDJq3gjtjIsBOO7ooobgIRvLYF?slug=jp-passan_pujols_comeback_mcgwire_rumors_070511 Mark McGwire’s comments and a quote from Pujols. Even if you truly believe it, playing the “God card” looks like a cover-up. IMO
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=caple-110706_pujols_terminator&sportCat=mlb A little bit of fun for Terminator fans…