Todos Provienen El Hombre
(That means All Hail The Man, btw.) So Albert Pujols doesn’t like being called “El Hombre” or “The Man,” either out of deference for the original Man, Stan Musial, or because of religious beliefs*.
And out of deference for Pujols, we’ll refrain from using the moniker. But for the past 13-plus seasons, he has certainly been That Dude.
You know, That Dude who just recently crushed both his 499th and his 500th home run in the same game, after essentially calling his shot(s)**, and did so before the fifth inning had wrapped.
Yeah, That Dude who, through an insanely large sample size of 1,983 games and 8,660 plate appearances (as of 4/28), has averaged 41 home runs, 124 RBI*** and triple slashed .321/.409/.599 and compiled an OPS of 1.008.
At some point during his career, he’s won batting titles, home run crowns, led his respective league in RBI, hits, doubles, total bases, runs scored and pretty much every other offensive category. He’s won three MVP awards, six Silver Sluggers, made 10 All-Star appearances and has compiled six 40 home run seasons.
In comic book terms, he is basically the science-child of Wolverine and Wonder Woman.
And here at Modify, we felt it was important to honor Pujols, who most definitely seems to be back on track this year, after a couple of down-for-Wonderine seasons.
Through 25 games, he has crushed nine home runs, knocked in 22 fellow Halos, slugged a better-than-career-average .602 and has been smiling like the St. Louis Albert. And to be clear, St. Louis Albert was something us baseball fans will discuss with our children the way The Best Generation talked about Stan Musial, Ernie Banks and Ted Williams.
We will all channel our inner Bob Saget/Ted Moseby, and will launch into something invariably similar to this:
“It was 2005. The St. Louis Cardinals, the 100-game-winning, coached-by-LaRusa Cardinals, were trailing the Houston Astros — who used to be good — three games to one in the NLCS. The Astros were heavy underdogs, winners of just the Wild Card in the regular season, and had stunned the Cardinals for three straight games following a Cardinals win in Game 1.
“So, Game 5 rolls around and the Astros take a 4-2 lead into the ninth, passing the ball to their All-Star closer Brad Lidge, fresh off a 42 save season. Lidge gave up a leadoff single to David Eckstein, then walked Jim Edmonds, bringing Albert Pujols to the plate.
“Now, I’m sure you can guess the rest, but the predetermined nature of the moment was insane. Like, you knew he was going to crush Lidge. There wasn’t even a second alternative.
“Watching Pujols was like watching Die Hard but baseballs were his enemies instead of Eastern Block Terrorists.”
Ok, maybe that last line isn’t universal. But anyone who watched that 2005 NLCS Game 5 blast and didn’t know it was going to happen before Pujols stepped into the box wasn’t paying attention. Even poor Brad Lidge knew it.
And last Wednesday, when Pujols stepped to plate in the fifth, as the MLB network cut over from the Yankee game to cover the entire at bat, I must say, it felt the exact same. And then, in true Brilliant Pujols fashion, he basically recreated the 2005 blast for No. 500, crushing an 89 mile-an-hour fastball and sending it into left-center field.
So, in honor of Albert Pujols, nay El Hombre, pick up an Angels Mod. The only thing better would be the ball, and let’s be honest: You didn’t get the ball.
* In regards to being dubbed “El Hombre” by an LA billboard (via ESPN.com): “No, I’m not comfortable with that, because I believe there’s one Man and, believe it or not, it’s God,” Pujols said. “God is the Man and there’s another Man, Stan “The Man” Musial in St. Louis. I know six years ago, when people first started making jerseys, I wasn’t comfortable with that because of the respect I have for Stan Musial.”
** From MLB.com: “I took my 0-for-5 yesterday,” he told them, “and I’m going to hit two out today.”
*** Based on a 162 Game Average.