Monday, August 15, 2022

Albert Pujols soaking in ‘blessing’ of 11th and final MLB All-Star Game appearance

LOS ANGELES – Remember 1999? It was a pretty long time ago. The Sopranos debuted on HBO. Episode One of the Star Wars prequels was released. Major League Baseball was firmly in the PED era, as it would be the second straight year that both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa topped 60 home runs. You know what else happened? The St. Louis Cardinals, in the 13th round(!), drafted a kid named Jose Alberto Pujols. 

We now know him as Albert Pujols, one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. 

The artist formerly known as The Machine is now a part-timer in his 22nd and final MLB season. He’s an All-Star for the 11th time, this time on an honorary basis. 

“It’s a blessing,” said Pujols, who Monday night also took part in his fifth Home Run Derby. “It’s a great opportunity I’ll try to enjoy with my friends and my family.” 

Speaking of that Home Run Derby appearance, Pujols pulled off the shocker of the night when he knocked off top-seeded Kyle Schwarber in the first round. He nearly advanced to the finals, too, before eventual winner Juan Soto took him out. 

It was a special moment during two days of special moments for Pujols. 

Pujols hasn’t been an All-Star since 2015 and this was only his second trip since 2010. Still, he should be honored and it was a nice gesture by Major League Baseball to bring him along with Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera

Pujols is all over the all-time leaderboards. He is 12th with 1,889 runs scored. He’s 10th with 3,333 hits. He’s third in total bases, third in extra-base hits and 11th in times on base. His 678 doubles rank fifth, same as his 685 home runs. He trails only Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in RBI. He’s won two World Series rings. 

There really isn’t much left for Pujols to accomplish. This season is a send-off for the legend who will be enshrined in Cooperstown in the summer of 2028. 

He wouldn’t mind checking one more thing off his list the rest of the way, though. 

“I’ll just try to do the best that I can and hope to help the Cardinals to win a world championship,” he said. 

That would be quite a story. For now, Pujols is being honored at the All-Star Game and it’s very well-deserved.

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