Angels first baseman Albert Pujols joined one of the most exclusive and prestigious clubs in MLB history Tuesday by hitting his 500th career home run. And yet, nobody seems to care.
The biggest news was that Pujols’ 499th and 500th came in the same game — the first time that has ever happened.
There’s simply no brouhaha about the 500 home run milestone anymore. Between the performance enhancing drugs of the 1990s and 2000s and the acceptance of advanced statistics, home runs have lost much of their value, statistically speaking.
Chicks still dig the long ball, but a growing number of baseball fans don’t. They prefer more telling stats such as WAR (wins above replacement), OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) and wOBA (weighted on-base average).
Nobody dare questions the cleanliness of Pujols’s accomplishment, but because of players such as Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, the milestone has been watered down.
What many are forgetting is that there have only been 26 players in MLB history to reach this landmark statistic. I’m no more of a fan of arbitrary milestones than the next guy, but 500 is a big number, with only a small fraction of players ever reaching it.
I loved dingers growing up — the crack of the bat, roar of the fans and celebration after the trot around the bases — but because of advanced statistics and PEDs, they’ve lost their luster for me.
Nonetheless, the lack of coverage and appreciation for a classic milestone in a sport that cherishes the classics like none other is surprising and upsetting. But hey, maybe baseball fans are finally moving into the 21st century.
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