Friday, April 1, 2011

Albert Pujols by Phil Johnson

01 April 2011

Cubs' Opening Day

Albert Pujols? Seriously?
by Phil Johnson

Today I'm going to recommend a book about Albert Pujols. But I need to preface it with a disclaimer.

I really hate the Cardinals.

A little personal history: I was a casual Cardinals fan for awhile in my adolescence. I grew up in Tulsa, and the Cardinals' Triple-A farm club was based in Tulsa in the late '60s. So a local radio station broadcast all the Cardinals' games. I listened to a lot of games, and naturally, I more or less thought of myself as a Cardinals fan.

But I turned against the Cardinals during high school because (get this:) I found Harry Caray irritating in the extreme. (He and Jack Buck were the Cardinals' announcers in those days.)

After high school I went away to Moody Bible Institute and stayed in Chicago for most of the '70s. I met Darlene for the first time during the last week of June 1977, and fifteen minutes after meeting her I invited her to come with me to a baseball game that weekend. So our very first date was at Wrigley Field. (There's even a brick in the pavement at Wrigley today commemorating the event.)

Darlene and I were married two weeks shy of the anniversary of that first date, and our first apartment was a block from Wrigley. So you see: no matter how badly the Cubs do—and their bungling frequently exceeds even my worst expectations—we are locked-in, lifelong, die-hard Cubs fans.

All true Cubs fans hate the Cardinals. When you invest your emotional energies in a team who are perennial losers, it tends to stir even stronger (and certainly darker) passions than a winning team would. The Cardinals are the Cubs' closest, oldest rivals, and let's be candid: Cardinals fans are punks. Plus, the Cardinals sent Harry Caray to Chicago. So there's a lot of pent-up, well-deserved hate.

Yet (and in all candor this seriously troubles everyone else in my family) I've always liked Albert Pujols. Not when he's playing the Cubs, mind you. But when he's playing any other team, I love to see him do well. He's a truly great baseball player with the potential to be one of the greatest ever. More than that, I like it that he is bold with his testimony for Christ. But I didn't realize how bold, until I read this in Pujols: More than the Game, by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth:

When an opposing player would get to first base, [Pujols] would ask them, "What do you think is going to happen to you when you die?" or "If you died today, where do you think you’re going to go?" (p. 141)

By the way, in yesterday's opener, Pujols tied a major league record by grounding into three double plays. And that's an achievement every Cubs fan can applaud.

Thanks to TeamPyro.blogspot

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