Wait a second. Are you trying to tell me the greatest right-handed hitter of all time, a man who never dabbled in enhancements during his career, may have been older when he dominated?
Stop the damn press. You have got to be kidding me.
This past week, sometime around I don’t care and half past aged, former Miami Marlins executive David Samson joined Dan Le Batard on his radio show, or podcast. Once upon a time, the Marlins were in on Pujols, before he left for Los Angeles. During his latest appearance, the former exec implied that the former Cardinal legend wasn’t really 41 years of age, even claiming there isn’t an executive in the game who believes his age. Okay. This would have been relevant a few, or a lot of, years ago.
But Samson, who burned out of the front office game in an ugly way with the Marlins, found his own calling on Podcast Avenue. Always a giving person in terms of true information as well as sound bite golden nuggets, Samson just dished you straight. I respected his candor, but I don’t think he’s on the Pujols Age Moon here with his comments. When Le Batard challenged him to confirm that statement, Samson didn’t back down. Good for him. Seriously. We all need to feel good these days about something, even if it’s a long-buried treasure of sports talk polarization.
Frankly, I don’t care how old he is. I don’t give a shit. If the rumors are true and the printed facts are lies, my admiration for his game will not change. It won’t slide an inch. What he did for St. Louis and Cardinal Nation is cemented in history already, way ahead of the claims and false reports. If someone hasn’t cracked the case by now, I would give up. Either he’s really 41, or his guy or girl were “that good.” Does it matter either way?
Aren’t we marveled by older hitters hanging in the game with nothing but their knees and bat speed? Isn’t that one of the sexiest aspects of the game? It’s what brought me to the game in the first place. My first favorite player was Pedro Guerrero, a solid hitter with a far more checkered past and future away from the diamond. He was this Big Papi origin story from the other side of the plate, a guy who didn’t check all the athletic boxes, but an ability to hit was undeniable. Guerrero moved slowly but surely, far from elegance but built by repetition and skill. I fell in love with that type of ballplayer. Talented underdogs who keep it interesting. Pujols was something else, so age shouldn’t be propped up as a condition. As Pesci would say, it’s what it is.
The Crash Davis types are cooler anyway (can a sportswriter still use “cool?). The late-in-age Reggie Sanders, who looked like he curled a Prius before smoking a mistake into the left field stands, were always entertaining to run around the track one last time. It’s those older sluggers that remind us why baseball is part romance, part mindfuck. All-together, a drug of choice, but necessary for millions across this country to feel some resemblance of normalcy.
If Pujols is indeed older and more gray than his drivers license claims, so be it. More impressive if you ask me. Take it from a 39-year-old (my documents are as genuine as gooey butter cake at Russell’s brunch, promise) who has been addicted to fitness since he was 17. Ever since I saw a big guy named McGwire stroll up to the plate and swing a bat like Paul Bunyan on tap, I wanted to work out. It hasn’t ended. If Pujols accumulated those statistics at an older number than presented, just tip your cap and appreciate.
Later this week for STL Jewish Light, I will give my take on the latest claims from Pujols’ wife, Deidre. She made some noise last week with an Instagram post that seemed to infer that the 2021 season was her husband’s last. Before long, she backed off those claims, merely stating it was the end of the contract. But what about the personal services contract, then? Can someone locate the current state of this particular bond? If it’s in full force, kiss him goodbye once he takes his final swings this summer.
What I see out there is possibly a man trying to reach an incredible milestone yet not wanting to fade away while doing so. For more on that, check out my extended take with Jewish Light this week. We have some great content waiting for you already.