What Did We Just Witness From Pujols Last Night?
I arrived at the late party late, as usual. The people there had purposely waited to watch the game late on DVR, and were getting impatient to see what had happened. Having already seen the game, I tried my best to hide my excitement, but they knew something was up. “Is it a blowout?” asked my buddy Jeremy. I nodded. He groaned, assuming his worst fears about Kyle Lohse to have come true. Then, a pause. “Did anything good happen?” he asked nervously.
“Something historic happened,” I replied.
Even the most awe-inspiring sights can become ordinary if you live with them long enough. I imagine someone living next to Niagra Falls or the Grand Canyon would eventually become bored with their magesty and magnitude. The life-sustaining sun in the sky, the stars decorating the heavens every night, the complex dance of cells that create babies seemingly out of nowhere … these magical events seem so ordinary because we’ve lived with them long enough to forget their miraculous and unique qualities.
And so it is with Albert Pujols. Cardinal Nation has lived with their superstar first baseman for eleven years. It started out like any romance, with heroic feats greeted with unconditional love and adoration. But time and proximity has worn down that relationship. The contract fights, the downgraded production, the surliness, the media harping, have all conspired to make Albert look more human, and less special. We’ve lived long enough with Pujols to forget what he can do, or what he means to one of the greatest baseball cities in America.
Cardinals fans and the rest of baseball were jolted back into awe last night by what must stand as the single greatest World Series performance by any one player in history. Pujols crushed three mammoth home runs and drove in six runs in a 5-6 hit barrage. The angry, driven slugger reminded everyone that he is the most ruthless and iconic hitter in this game’s long legacy, and he’s certainly not finished.
Where does it stand in history? Consider this: there are only three other performances of this magnitude that compare to the damage that Pujols unleashed in Arlington last night. Babe Ruth had two games in which he hit three home runs (Game four of the 1926 Series, and game four of the 1928 Series), and Reggie Jackson had his fabled “Mr. October” moment of three homers in game six of the 1977 Series. These are the only yardsticks by which we can quantify what Pujols accomplished.
And he obliterated all of them. You see, Pujols didn’t just hit three home runs like Ruth and Jackson. He drove in six runs (one more than Jackson) and had five hits (two more than Ruth or Jackson had in their games). That’s legendary production, folks. In other words, we just saw probably the single greatest World Series performance in the 100+ years of legendary baseball feats, and it happened in our own backyard, so to speak, by a family member we have come to know personally and intimately.
This is superhero stuff. Accomplishments like this turn men into myths, fables to be breathlessly recounted generation to generation. Last night our mighty Pujols picked up his superhuman hammer and crushed our previous perceptions of his abilities and what is possible in this game. He is now Achilles. He is now Zeus. He now lives on Mount Olympus, swathed in the clouds of legend and held apart, beyond.
After the game, we stood around a roaring fire in the chilly October air. We struggled to describe the landmark moment we just shared together, our words choking on shock. Just like ancient peoples who recounted their astounding experiences around a fire so long ago, layers of embellishment growing the story into impossible heroics, so did Pujols’ accomplishments begin the process anew. A shared moment. A new fable. A new legend.
And it’s so easy to forget when you’ve seen the miraculous every day. But, like the other great forces in nature, sometimes the miraculous reminds you just how special it really is. Thank you, Albert Pujols, for bringing awe back into our lives!