Albert Pujols got a fastball right down Broadway on Tuesday night and did to it what he and most major leaguers do to those, he hit it a long way. It was his second home run of the game and the 500th of his illustrious career. Pujols is the 26th player in baseball history to join the 500 home run club, and is the current major league leader in the long ball. So why hasn’t this generated much buzz in the baseball community?
First and foremost, it seems logical that in the modern game, 500 home runs isn’t as much of an accomplishment as it used to be. The game is geared more toward home runs now than it was 30 years ago and the shine seems to have been rubbed off of that trophy. It also may have to do with the fact that players today are depicted in a completely different manner by the media and thus the public. Men who once would’ve been considered heroes are often labeled as overpaid and uncaring. The biggest factor however seems to be a byproduct of the steroid era and recent scandals.
Big hulking figures like McGwire, Sosa and Bonds made 500 home runs irrelevant with their constant 50, 60 and 70 home run seasons. Obviously, we’ve seen a shift in the game back toward the norm where 50 home runs will assuredly win you a home run crown, but fans haven’t been so quick to forgive. Just about every home run accomplishment we’ve seen recently has been tarnished by scandal. A-Rod, Bonds, Manny, Braun and Ortiz may never make their way to Cooperstown despite having numbers that far exceed those of previously inducted players.
Still, fans and baseball should care more about this accomplishment. Pujols transcends the steroid era and subsequent negative media depiction of professional athletes. He’s never tested positive for performance enhancers and has even gone so far as to pursue legal action against those who even claimed he may have. Albert’s also been somewhat of a media-darling in the past because of his extensive charity work, outlook toward life and intense methodical approach to baseball. In fact, the worst thing most fans could ever say about Pujols is that he accepted 250 million dollars to play for a contender and that he hasn’t lived up to the hype on the West Coast yet.
Fans aren’t looking for a hero anymore, and if they were, it’d likely be a Mike Trout type of player who is young and contributes across every category. We as fans will likely never be able to view players as we once did as children or in a different era. The world, and more specifically social media wouldn’t seem to allow it. Still, if fans were to ever look to a single player to root for and look up to, Pujols would and should be that man. Baseball may not throw him a parade, but we as fans should care about this sure-fire Hall of Famer.