The View From the Bench

Paul Salomon

(Brent Schwert)

Four hundred forty-one feet from home plate, a baseball landed in the upper deck of the new Busch Stadium on Sunday. About 83 feet away from home plate, near first base, Albert Pujols was jumping up and down, rounding first. Trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, he had just jacked the 2-run game winner.No big deal, really, for the guy coming off best first five years in baseball history. It was also the sixth walk-off homerun of his young career.

In his next at-bat, he spanked another 2-run dinger to tie the major league record with homers in four straight at-bats. He didn’t hit the fifth. He could only muster up the strength for a 2-out double — his seventh extra-base hit in three games.

Are you following me here? This is ridiculous. Jose Alberto Pujols is the best player in baseball.

A-Rod is also quite good, but this little homerun streak put Albert atop the league in R, RBI, HR, and OPS. At this pace, if he plays 20 seasons, he’ll have 800 homeruns.

Plus, he’s the most consistent great hitter in the world, so he actually might do it. We’re not just talking Triple Crown; he might do that more than once. He really is that good.

My good friend, golf mate, and former columnist Tariq Engineer discussed this with me, and we can’t see why Albert isn’t the face of baseball. You already know he’s the best player in baseball, and he’ll be there for the next 15 years. He plays for a heartland of America team that are perennial favorites in the NL Central. He also doesn’t make a quarter of a billion dollars like A-Hole — not yet I guess.

Call it an STL bias if you want, or even Mississippi coast, but last time I checked, ESPN was still showing the Sox/Yanks every weekend, flashing their East Coast bias. As long as Jay Mariotti keeps pretending the cubs are going to win the central on Around the Horn, I’ll keep lovin’ on my boys.

Plus, Albert is undeniable.