In a season full of great pitching baseball fans have been treated to two historic home runs in the same month. Alex Rodriguez joined the 600 home run club on August 4th becoming the youngest man to reach that milestone. Twenty-three days later Albert Pujols blasted his 400th home run into the stratosphere in just his 10th season in the majors. Despite the fact that A-Rod is only the 7th player to reach the 600 home run club, Albert Pujols 400th blast is more meaningful for baseball?
Albert Pujols 400th.
How can that be? Simple: steroids. Alex Rodriguez will be forever linked to performance enhancing drugs. That monumental blast he hit during the first week of August should’ve punched his ticket into Cooperstown, but with the voters largely against enshrining anyone linked to PED’s, it seems unlikely that A-Rod will be voted into the Hall of Fame, or even be regarded as one of the all-time greats by the fans.
You don’t have to look any further than Barry Bonds to see that fans respect what has been done clean than anything even remotely linked to steroids.. Bonds is the home run king and he is no where to be found in the game of baseball. That is because fans are tired of being played. They want to see players break records legitimately, not by cheating. Fans’ actions have made the best statement possible: “We forgive you, but we will never forget what you did.”
Albert Pujols on the other hand has never been linked to PED’s. He is the poster boy for the post-PED world of baseball. Pujols has become all that is good in a world tarnished by PED’s and dishonesty. His 400th round-tripper doesn’t solidify anything. It doesn’t promise him a place in Cooperstown. Afterall, 46 other players have reached that mark. It’s true that no player has started his career with the consistency that El Hombre has displayed. But, I’d be hard pressed to say that Pujols is a first-ballot Hall of Famer if he was to retire today.
Hall of Fame discussion aside, the fact is this: Pujols 400th is a bigger deal than A-Rod’s 600th home run. You can take away everything, what teams they play for, the difference in stages. When it all comes down to it the only thing that matters is that Pujols has accomplished what he has without the assistance of PED’s.
While A-Rod’s 600th may be bigger in the historical context of the game, Pujols 400th will be held in a much higer regard in the court of public opinion and the decisions of that court are ultimately what matters in the end.