Xavier men’s basketball coach Chris Mack is known for having a great sense of humor, but even he realized he may have crossed the line with a joke he made about Albert Pujols during the Home Run Derby Monday night.
At one point in the semifinals, Pujols hit a cold streak and couldn’t stop topping the ball. It looked like his bottom hand was slipping off the bat, but the new format (racing the clock) didn’t allow him to stop for pine tar. Mack offered a suggestion on Twitter, which was preserved by Big League Stew before the coach deleted it.
“Pujols needs an oxygen tank or (photos of needles),” Mack wrote. “I’m sorry, did I tweet that?”
Pujols has been accused of taking steroids by at least one radio show host, but there has never been proof. There is only speculation because he’s one of the best power hitters to ever play the game.
Some of you may know Mack — who attended the Home Run Derby with his father — as the guy who put a heckler in his place at Arby’s or has this insane Shaq tattoo on his leg. We can now add “the guy who did Albert Pujols dirty during the Home Run Derby” to his resume.
Photo via Chris Mack/Twitter
The Los Angeles Angels won their fifth game in a row on Monday night, and Albert Pujols led the way offensively with a pair of home runs. Mike Trout also homered, so he was a topic of discussion during postgame interviews once again.
Did that annoy Pujols?
With the Angels leading 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, the Tampa Bay Rays decided to intentionally walk Trout to get to Pujols. Albert validated the decision by flying out, and a reporter asked him about that after the game.
“I don’t think about that, dude,” he said, per Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register. “It’s part of the game. They can do that 100 more times. That doesn’t matter to me. … Whether I’m hitting .500, you don’t want the best player on the team (Trout) to beat you. That happened (to me) early in my career. … Most of the time, I’m going to make them pay. Other times, I don’t get the hits that I should.”
Pujols was then asked how much he enjoys watching Trout play.
“I have fun watching all 25 guys on this ballclub,” he said. “This is not the Mike Trout show. This is the Angels’ organization, 25 guys, and our mission is to try to win.”
Pujols then went on to shower Trout in praise, calling him “one of the best players in the game” and lauding his eagerness to learn and improve. Still, you can’t help but wonder if there is a little jealousy at play when Pujols — once considered by many to be the best hitter in the game — has to answer questions about a young teammate amid a stretch where Albert has five homers in his past five games.
If not for the comments Pujols made about Trout last year, we wouldn’t read into this as much. While I don’t doubt that Pujols is a big Trout fan and loves playing with him, it seems like there is some bitterness there.
The Royals had a tumultuous series with the Oakland A’s over the weekend that started with a takeout slide by Brett Lawrie on Friday night that injured Alcides Escobar. The Royals responded by having pitchers Kelvin Herrera and Yordano Ventura throw at him the next two days, leading to suspensions for the pitchers.
After the pitchers were suspended Tuesday, Lawrie commented on the Royals, called out the team’s fans, and labeled the players bush league. Two media outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle interpreted Lawrie’s comments to mean that Albert Pujols said he thought the Royals were playing bush league, when that was not what the Angels first baseman said.
Via the Chronicle:
Two media outlets, including The Chronicle, thought Lawrie said that Pujols had told him the Royals do “bush-league stuff,” when in fact by that point, Lawrie was discussing himself – he was saying that’s how the Royals behave, rather than Pujols, two distinct sentences rather than one.
Here is what Lawrie said: “I talked to Albert Pujols at first base. This guy has been in the game forever, he’s one of the best players in the game. And for him to say that, ‘Hey man, you’re playing the game hard.’ And for them (the Royals) to do that, it’s bush league stuff.”
Pujols has lived in Kansas City and didn’t like having his name thrown into the controversy, so he personally reached out to the Royals to smooth things over. Pujols spoke with Yost over the phone.
“He was concerned,” Yost said Thursday via the Kansas City Star. “He lived in Kansas City. And he’s got a lot of friends in Kansas City. He said he’s got far too much respect for our team and our players to say anything like that. He said he just wanted us to know that that didn’t come from him.”
Got all that? So Lawrie still thinks the Royals are bush league, but Pujols never said it. Still, if Pujols does think it, he would have a lot of reason based on this.
The Los Angeles Angels are having a lot of fun with Yasiel Puig this week. One night after Albert Pujols showed up Puig by tagging up at first and taking second on a fly out to center, Pujols and Erick Aybar decided to mess with the young Dodgers star on the field before the game.
A few innings before Pujols tagged up and took second on Puig Monday night, Puig tried to double Aybar off at first on a fly ball. The two exchanged finger wags. The horseplay on the field was obviously a spillover from all the ribbing that was exchanged the night before.
In the end, Puig and the Dodgers got the last laugh with a walk-off win in the 9th inning.
GIF via @cjzero
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Albert Pujols taught Yasiel Puig a valuable lesson during Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers. When Pujols was on first with LA leading 5-0 in the eighth inning, he somehow managed to tag up and take second base on a fly out to center field.
Pujols, who doesn’t run well at all, completely caught Puig off guard. Puig nonchalantly fielded the fly ball before realizing what Pujols was up to. Albert easily beat the youngster’s throw and mocked him for it after the inning ended.
Puig had fun with several of the Angels players over the course of the night. He made a catch on a line drive to center field two minutes earlier and tried to throw behind Erick Aybar to double him off at first, but Aybar got back safely. The two exchanged finger wags.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters after the game that he hopes Pujols taught Puig something.
“I hope he learns a lesson from it,” he said, per MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. “Albert knows how to play the game. Albert takes a few hard steps and if Yasiel comes up throwing, he stops. He drops his head and Albert knows there’s no play. We talked about them being an aggressive team. If you don’t pay attention, they will embarrass you, and he embarrassed him there.”
H/T Big League Stew
Albert Pujols probably could not wait to get out of Baltimore on Thursday night. The next time Pujols rips a ground ball or line drive down the third base line, Manny Machado will not be there to gobble it up.
You now how Machado made that incredible off-balance throw to rob Pujols of a hit on Wednesday? The Orioles star did it again on Thursday, only this time he made it look easy. When Pujols scorched a one-hopper to Machado’s left, the 22-year-old must have remembered that he gunned Pujols out by several steps the night before. He set his feet this time.
That throw could not have been more perfect. It helps that Pujols doesn’t run well, but his lack of speed takes nothing away from either one of Machado’s plays. Here’s Machado’s first throw as a refresher of the type of incredible week he has had:
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There’s a little bit of a beef brewing between the Angels and the Mariners this year.
The teams have been two of the best in the AL this season and are competing for a playoff spot from the AL West. They also had a great 3-game series in Anaheim over the weekend, with the teams splitting 3-2 extra-innings wins the first two games, and the Angels getting a walk-off 6-5 win on Sunday.
Rodney walked Trout to start the 9th, and Pujols inside-outed a fastball down the right field line for a tying double to make the score 5-5. After Trout scored the tying run, he and Pujols exchanged arrows to mock Rodney, who fires a bow and arrow as his save celebration. Keep in mind that after escaping a jam in the 8th inning, Rodney did his arrow celebration and pointed it towards the Angels dugout.
After allowing the tying run, Rodney gave up a single, intentional walk and got a double play. Following another intentional walk, Grant Green hit a walk-off RBI single to give the Angels their 59th win of the season.
There will be other days for Rodney, but you know this had to hurt. And he has no room to get mad at the Angels for mocking him when he started things by pretending to fire one of his arrows at the Angels dugout.
“Fernando’s animated. Our guys noticed it,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the game.
Angels starter Tyler Skaggs, who took a no decision, had even better quotes.
“I did not,” Skaggs said when asked if he saw Rodney fire the arrow at the Angels dugout, “but I heard about it and I’m glad we scored and won because that’s ridiculous. Just goes to show you — don’t rile up our team because we have a lot of good players. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to the next time we play them.”
What goes around comes around. Also keep in mind that Rodney pitched for the Angels in 2010 and 2011 and was not happy by the end of his stint with the team. After losing the closer job in 2011, Rodney complained about his lack of a role and said the team should trade him. Maybe some of that beef with the coaches still lingers for him.
Here’s another angle for Pujols doing the bow and arrow: