By: Jacob Born
Albert Pujols can make his case for being the greatest baseball player in the post-steroid era, and for being possibly the best player to ever play the game. As the first basemen for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols has had a historic opening for his career. He is the only player to hit 30+ home runs in his first 11 seasons. He has 30+ home runs, 100+ runs batted in, .300+ batting average, and 100+runs scored in all but two of his first 11 seasons, and in both of those seasons he had 99 RBI’s. In short, Pujols has been nothing short of dominant.
As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, it is safe to say that these past three months have been extraordinary: coming back 10½ games back from the wild card, winning it on the last day, beating the best National League team in the wild card, and not to mention, being able to root for my Cardinals here in Milwaukee, sorry Brewers fans, and to top it all off–the heroics of game six, and winning it in game 7. It’s safe to say, all of these events made my first few weeks at Marquette unbelievable. But now, things get real. Pujols is a free agent and being courted by many teams, like the Miami Marlins. While this does not seem to be odd to the casual fan, a friend pointed out how ironic it could be that Pujols signs with the Marlins, and just how Major League Baseball could be scripted.
The Marlins are rebranding themselves. New name: Miami Marlins. Check. New Stadium: Marlins Ballpark. Check. New face of the franchise: not yet. Pujols would be able to instantly fill that void. The extremely Dominican following in Miami would welcome him with open arms. It would give new manager, Ozzie Guilin, someone to base his entire line-up around. It would create incredible buzz around the brand new team, possibly enough to compete with the hype of their superstar NBA team, the Miami Heat. Would it be a coincidence for the NBA’s best player to go to South Beach, and then the next year the MLB send its greatest player to South Beach to try to recreate the same kind of buzz?
Next comes the oddity of the schedule. The Marlins first home series, which will reveal the ballpark to the world, is against the St. Louis Cardinals (the most recent World Series champion). That would certainly put some fans in the seats, especially for a team that was pushed to the brink back in August to fight back into the playoffs. The same team that was down to their final strike. Twice. And fought back to push the Fall Classic to game seven, when they won.
But wait, the Cardinals is also Pujols’s former team. So that would add even more drama. New team versus old team. And finally, the kicker: the home series is just a single game. Baseball series are normally three game sets with the occasional two or four if the teams are divisional rivals. But there are never single game series, unless it’s an extra game to break a tie for the playoffs.
A single game with the greatest player in the game playing for a new team in a new stadium as the new face of the franchise. A single game against the team that he left, where he had arguably the best single-game showing in postseason history; the team that he won the World Series with. Fans would pay top dollar to see that game, possibly more so than World Series tickets. Think of the publicity the MLB would have.
I hear Hollywood calling now.