Albert Pujols hit his 499th and 500th career home runs Tuesday night at Nationals Park in Washington. We can debate the merits of passing an arbitrary milestone – people love round numbers – and what it means in the post-Steroid Era another time. It was however amusing to see Pujols’ name scrolling along every sports ticket last night alongside Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx as the youngest players in baseball history to reach that total.
Interestingly enough, if Pujols’ teammates are to be believed, he “called” his two home runs before the game. From the Orange County Register:
"“He said he was going to hit two homers and drive in five runs,” Erick Aybar said."
"Added Mike Trout: “If Albert tells you something, he’s going to do it.”"
Well … except, you know, actually going through on his threat to sue Jack Clark.
More important Pujols than “calling” his shot is the fact he’s putting together a nice start to the season in Los Angeles with eight homers and 19 RBIs along with a .274/.337/.619 line. Our site mocked him last summer for having the worst contract in all of sports AND used his big ol’ skull as the feature image in our 30-team Least Valuable Players List. Now that his plantar fasciitis appears to be healed, maybe Pujols returns to form. Even so, that’s still a terrible contract for the Angels moving into the next decade with Pujols already 34 years old.
I’m curious to see how big of a deal Pujols passing the 500-home run barrier will be for the Angels? Will owner Arte Moreno throw a party when the team returns home? (Perhaps he’ll gift Pujols a lifetime pass to Disney Land and a box set of The Offspring CDs.) Bear in mind Pujols hit 445 of his career homers in St. Louis and he’s been a massive disappointment in Anahiem since signing his 10-year, $240 million deal in 2012.