Over the past two days, if you believed the hype,
The All-Star Game, you see, was being held in St. Louis, and St. Louis happens to be Albert's home city, and Albert is Albert. But things didn't go the way they were scripted, as is usually the case in baseball, and as is usually the case with the so-called Midsummer Classic. A flat performance in the Derby led to a fourth-place finish for Pujols, after which the crowd at Busch Stadium made about as much noise as might an assemblage at a junior varsity volleyball game. The fan from Philadelphia will be forced to make do with his old car and his tiny curved-screen television, as Pujols didn't even reach the warning track on either of the shots the fan called. Obama unleashed a 58-foot soft toss that would probably have hit home plate had Pujols not reached out to make an underhand catch. And the highlights of Pujols' All-Star Game were a pair of nice defensive plays at first base; otherwise, he went 0-for-3 and made an error in the top of the first that allowed the game's first run to score -- a run that would prove to be crucial, as the American League won 4-3 to extend its non-losing streak to 13.
It all seemed to be crushingly disappointing to the 46,760 red-swathed fans in attendance here Tuesday night, who are usually touted as the "best fans in baseball" but didn't seem very excited about anything that didn't involve Pujols (or fellow Cardinals
By that point, the script had already been torn up, in the same way it was last year, when
Pujols took it all in stride. "Obviously I wanted to do something to help our National League to win," he said after it was all over, "But it's part of the game." In other words, we -- fans, the media, Major League Baseball -- can't script baseball games, even those of the All-Star variety. They've got to actually be played. And even if that fact leads to disappointment sometimes, it's what makes the sport worth following.