It’s June 1st and a couple of days have passed since we learned of Mike Trout’s injury and subsequent surgery. The best player in the game will not be in the Angels starting lineup for at least 5 to 6 weeks and my response here is the same as it has been to all those who’ve texted me since the injury occurred…the show must go on.
The show will indeed go on without Trout but it’s not as if the show will be devoid of star power. Albert Pujols will one day be enshrined in Cooperstown, NY as one of the best hitters in baseball history. With each passing season, we’ve watched Pujols inch closer and closer to milestones. He entered the 2017 season on the verge of 600 career HR’s and also on his way to 3000 career hits. Think about that for a second…there have been just 3 players in the history of baseball that have accomplished the feat: Hank Aaron (3771 H/755 HR); Willie Mays (3282 H/660 HR); Alex Rodriguez (3115 H/696 HR). Albert will be the 4th.
Before we get to the 3000 hit plateau, Albert will hit his 600th HR. We were in Washington, D.C. three years ago when Pujols entered the game 2 HR’s shy of 500. He hit two that night and entered into what had long been considered the standard for power hitters…the 500-HR Club. Now he’s one away from becoming just the 9th player to get to 600 HR’s. Those that dismiss this accomplishment by stating it doesn’t matter or that no one cares, are foolish. Sure, the game has shifted to the incredible young talent in MLB but our society is mesmerized with the ‘look at me’ celebrity and tends to dismiss the body of work and/or accomplishments, which is sad. There are plenty who can appreciate what Pujols is on the verge of accomplishing without mentioning his contract or the fact he left St. Louis or even the fact this is Trout’s team and not his. Albert doesn’t care about any of it, at least externally, cause he just goes out and tries to help his team win regardless of what his failing body is telling him. I’m appreciative of everything Pujols has brought to the table as a member of the Angels…he’s been great with us, he busts his tail, he’s one of the most dedicated individuals when it comes to his craft and most importantly, he’s been the perfect person to come into this organization and serve as a mentor to the greatest player on the planet, Mike Trout…something that’s not quantifiable.
I have no idea what I’ll say when Pujols gets to his 600th HR. I felt the same way three years ago when he got to 500 and even 10 years ago this month when Sammy Sosa hit his 600th as a member of the Texas Rangers…I’ll just let the moment dictate what I say or don’t say. With Sosa’s, I was doing play by play on radio and with that medium, you have to describe everything that’s going on down on the field. I’ve had a chance to listen to Sosa’s call a couple of times since MLB.com provided me the clip in April and I’d like to think I did a pretty decent job. Again, the stage was set and all I tried to do was to bring the listener into the ballpark and make them feel a part of history…something I learned from my mentor, Eric Nadel. Would love to hear your thoughts…
Sosa’s 600th HR occurred at home in Arlington on June 20, 2007. Nearly 10 years to the day (fingers crossed), Albert Pujols will hopefully hit his 600th HR at home in Anaheim. When it’s all said and done, I will have had the honor of being behind the mic for two of the nine 600 HR calls in history. While that alone is mind boggling, the fact both of these individuals are Latinos and I, as one of the very few Latinos in my industry, get the chance to be attached to it, makes it that much sweeter. As the great Celia Cruz used to say, ‘¡Azúcar!’
As always, feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Viviendo el sueño…
Cover photo courtesy of Angels team photographer, Jordan Naholowa’a Murph.