Albert Pujols, arguably the greatest all-around hitter of his generation, became just the ninth player in MLB history to hit 600 homers. And nobody gave a hoot. The crowd excitement was on point, but there were some empty seats at Angel Stadium of Anaheim when he cranked that historic blast inside the left foul pole. There was no extra media on hand. No breaking news urgency.
Albert Pujols launches a grand slam to left for his 600th career home run, becoming the ninth player in MLB history to reach the milestone Check out http://MLB.com/video for more! About MLB.com: Former Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League Club owners voted unanimously to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations into an independent technology company.
The baseball fans and purists who have watched Pujols mythical career respect his gangster. Eclipsing 600 homers, while starting his career during the PED ERA, winning three MVP awards and and never getting implicated or testing positive for illegal substances, is the stuff of legends.
Barry Bonds holds the all-time MLB homer record with 762 hot knocks. The Great Hammerin Hank Aaron is second with a clean 755. The only other player to have hit 700 or more is baseballs first Godfather Babe Ruth with 714. Alex Rodriguez (696), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey, Jr. (630), Jim Thome (612), Sammy Sosa (609) and now the 37-year-old Dominican baseball god Albert Pujols (600) are the only other players to have hit 600 or more.
St. Louis Cardinals Star 1st Baseman #5, Albert Pujols the boss of today’s Baseball. The Current “KING OF BASEBALL”!
In past years, Pujols accomplishments would have come with great fanfare and media attention. Stadiums were packed as fans chased players from city -to-city during the homer explosion of the mid-’90s and early 2000’s. There was a rare excitement about these statistical conquests that even lured non-baseball fans into the narrative.
At the same time, it is those lingering and numbing effects of MLBs homer hangover that has cheapened and diminished the power accomplishments of guys like Pujols. The excitement and energy of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosas assault on Roger Maris’ long-standing homer record in 1998 and the eye-popping offensive stats that were generated during that time fell victim to the depressing and never-ending scandal surrounding baseballs elite superstar players and their alleged PED use.
9/13/98: Sammy Sosa hits his second homer of the day, his 62nd of the year, joining Mark McGwire in passing Roger Maris’ 61 home run record Check out http://MLB.com/video for more! About MLB.com: About MLB.com: Baseball Commissioner Allan H.
This snatched some of the luster and novelty from the home run.
Guys were slamming 60, 70 homers back then. Five of the Top 10 all-time homer guys at least played during the PED Era and eight of the Top 15. As remarkable as hitting 600 dingers is, the media attention isnt there anymore.
ESPN used to cut to live at-bats of guys approaching even their 500th and 600th career home runs. When Barry Bonds was chasing down Hank Aaron, it seemed as if they would go live to all of his at-bats.
McGwire, Canseco, Bonds, Sosa….. Most exciting time in Baseball.
Ballparks were on fire and the home run carried with it an electricity that eventually twisted into a normalcy that still affects fans today. In a season where fans are re-enamored with the homer as MLB has launched the most dingers to date since 2000, rising PED suspicion and theories of ball juicing detracts from Pujols career and focuses on the negative elements surrounding anything good that happens between baseball and the home run.
Baseball has all of the respect in the world for Pujols and what he has been able to do during his illustrious 17-year career, but unfortunately theres a dark cloud that hangs over any player who hit almost a third of his career homers in St. Louis between 2001-2005, when the Congressional Senate Committee Hearings and public interrogation of the games finest players changed the face of pro sports by forcing baseball to address its performance enhancing drug epidemic.
Baseball is just healing from these wounds and skepticism still abounds.
Pujols accomplished his homer feat about 10 years too late. Too late to get the fanfare and marketing play that his accomplishments deserve, but right on time to lock down a spot in Cooperstown. In the end, Pujols will be able to attain something that none of those other more celebrated hitters of his era have been able to achieve; a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction, proving that in the long run honor is better than accolades.