Tag Archives: Hall of Fame

To me, it’s still THE Game

The other night Albert Pujols hit career home run number 536 to tie Mickey Mantle for 16th on MLB’s All-Time Home Run List. This is quite the accomplishment as Pujols continues his Hall-Of-Fame level career. I am not sure how many baseball fans noticed this feat. I am certain that regardless of how many home runs Albert Pujols hits, he won’t be remembered like Mantle still is, and that’s not his fault.

Albert Pujols ties The Mick on the All-Time HR List

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One slugger, one organization, Prince … Albert

I was watching the Brewers and Cardinals play Game Six of their series last night when my mind started wandering towards a thought I will be sharing here for the next few minutes. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder were competing for the teams they have been with for their entire careers. They are both free agents this coming off-season, and both have been speculated to be signing with another team. I for one would like to see them both stay where they started. Maybe it’s the old school baseball romantic that I am, that tells me they should stay. Or it could be that I am just old. Either way I hope they do stay.

Don’t baseball fans of today deserve to see the big sluggers stay with an organization for their career, or at least stay through their prime? I am pretty sure that all of us baseball fans can name an iconic ball player of their time that was with their team for all of their prime or even their full career. Back in the days when we didn’t need the afternoon announcement of the manager’s lineup because, for the most part, we already knew it, day in and day out. We also knew that our 3-4-5 hitters were coming back each year. We even knew that when our team had some prospects make the big club at the same time, we could count on several years of seeing these kids grow up together. It was exciting to see and to believe in. Now it’s more like college sports where the maximum time a player is going to be in town is four years at a time, and that’s only if they are good enough to keep the ownership from thinking the grass is looking greener elsewhere. Maybe it’s the 162 game schedule, or maybe I am jaded by Boston’s scrutiny of players, but I swear clubs go out of their way to dramatize the abilities of players in other organizations. It’s like being in a good relationship, when you really get in there and get close to someone, there are details that we all learn about one another. We understand what works and what doesn’t, we understand the strengths and weaknesses, we also understand “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” ― Aristotle. Baseball ownership seems to miss this for some reason.

So we have these two premier sluggers of their era. Pujols is already headed for Cooperstown. Fielder will be there too if he puts up numbers in the next six seasons like he has in his first six seasons. Did you know that of the top 20 home run hitters of all-time, there are only 3 players who played their entire career with the same organization? They are Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams. If you look through the list there are several other players who played with just two teams and most of their prime with just one organization.

Albert Pujols is in the top ten of just about every offensive category in the storied history of the Cardinals organization. If he stays in St. Louis and has an average Pujols year next season, he would pass Stan Musial as the Cardinals’ all-time home run leader, and in other categories he would trail only Musial, and fellow hall-of-famer, Lou Brock. Pujols has led the Cards’ to the post season seven times in his 11-year career, and they are going to the World Series for the 3rd time since he arrived in St. Louis. I think it would be great to see him stay with the Cards, and finish his career there. When he’s done, they can retire his #5, he can be one of the great Cardinals’ of all-time and take his place in Cooperstown with the Cardinals hat on his bust.

Prince Fielder in just 6 full seasons, is in the top ten of many of the Brewers offensive categories. If he does sign to stay in Milwaukee, he surely would battle with hall-of-famers, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor for the top three offensive spots in Brewers history. Fielder and the Brewers have been to playoffs twice in his six full seasons. If you watched any games played in Milwaukee this year, you can feel the great atmosphere there. I have been to Miller Park and it’s just a fun place. It has to be one of the few baseball stadiums that has a ‘football tailgating feel’ outside, and just plain excitement for the home team inside. The Brewers had the best home record in baseball this year, and that atmosphere in Miller Park is one of the reasons why.

I hope they both stay with their clubs, but I doubt they both will. The fans in St. Louis and Milwaukee certainly deserve to see their baseball stars stay right where they became stars. I know it’s about money. Too much of sports is about money. I just wish sometimes it could be about quality of life and what works. The money part is often times the part that breaks down in a baseball relationship, which means that part of it probably wasn’t right to begin with.

 

 

 

Raise the banner

The Boston Bruins raised their Stanley Cup Championship banner to the rafters last night. I enjoyed the ceremony. These things tend to get dragged out a bit, maybe too long, but I liked last night’s event. It was really nice for the home town crowd to see their team with the Cup on the Garden ice. It was great to have Mark Recchi there as well, such an integral part of last year’s championship team. A lot of people were calling for Recchi to be scratched from games towards the end of last season and into the playoffs. He ended up playing in all 25 games, scoring 5 goals, and getting 14 points. His career is now done with the next stop being the Hockey Hall of Fame. He brought a lot to the dressing room and on the ice in his 2+ years in Boston.

Before the banner was raised to the roof while the crowd roared, there was more ceremony. After hearing from the owner, president, and general manager, there were several legends of past Bruins Cup winners introduced. I know this title belongs to the 2010-11 Bruins, but they were certainly willing to share that spotlight with the players that came before them last night. This is what makes the hockey family so unique. Maybe I just don’t know about it or see it in the other sports, but there’s always a direct correlation between the present and the past in hockey. There are always former players around the present teams. The hockey fraternity is always open, welcoming somebody back. Perhaps it has to do with how these men all started at the same place, in a cold rink, or on a cold pond somewhere, learning to skate and play hockey, in the freezing cold, at some, far from prime time, hour of the day or night. It’s a commitment, more so than any other team sport, that starts from day one. By the time these guys are 12 years old they already feel like they are a part of something special. I don’t know, I just think there’s more sense of team with these guys, and it doesn’t seem to end when they’re done playing either.

Last years’ Bruins squad was certainly scrutinized throughout the season, and certainly when they lost the first two playoff games at home against Le Habs. The team had been under achievers in recent years, and nobody knew what to expect in the playoffs last season. Then came this team, that pulled together, played together, fought together, rallied around their fallen, and did the improbable. They won the whole thing. Who would have guessed that the drought was going to end last year? Not many. This was a team effort, a depiction of how team works, The Team that played the best team hockey, and they won. Without a player in the top 35 scorers in the league, they somehow found a way to score enough to win it all. Certainly Tim Thomas helped that cause as on many nights he only needed a goal or two in order to win.

The Bruins didn’t win their season opener last night. Though, they did do something that no other team can do, for another year anyway, they got to raise the banner.