Please bear with me as the following is most difficult to write as it includes the unthinkable: admitting that I was wrong. But wrong I was, about you in an Angels uniform, your on-field production and your deep faith, for which I would like to extend my most sincere apology, especially today, as tickets for all potential American League Championship Series games at Angel Stadium go on sale at 10 a.m. and you prepare to face off against
the A-holes or Royal Pains in the Asses in Thursday's divisional series opener at the Big A.
To that end, let me start by apologizing for my Aug. 26, 2013, dirty laundry airing story "Albert Pujols and Torii Hunter Alleged to Have Turned Angels Clubhouse into a Fight Club" and my Sept. 5, 2012, story (that at least had a happy ending) "Angels and Albert Pujols Blasted for Failing to Help OC Down Syndrome Event."
But I am most sorry for my May 23, 2013 ("Albert Pujols, the Angels' 10-year, $240 Million Man, None and Done?"), May 25, 2012 ("Albert Pujols' Homer Drought Begins at Home") and May 21, 2012 ("Albert Pujols and His Lack of Homers Dinged by New Website") stories that questioned your production as a power hitter.
On a related note, on behalf of everyone here at OC Weekly, I am apologizing for you being included in our OC's Scariest People 2012 feature with this most-unflattering image:
With that out of the way and forever jettisoned from our memory banks, let us move forward to a new era of respect, which you most certainly earned, young man, in helping get the Angels to the playoffs.
Let me also say that you won me over with countless big plays on defense and big hits on offense that I saw on television. In person at the Big A this season, I saw you hit the hardest ball I have ever seen hit, a hard line drive foul ball to left that would have killed a spastic monkey had it jump-jump-jumped in front of it. That's how fast the ball was moving. Incredible. Keep in mind I was a Little League all-star, high school bench sitter and the first person cut from my college team, so I've seen a lot of baseballs come off bats.
But the moment that really stood out for me this season, and one I like to think illustrated what a special Angel team this is, was your walk-off homer against Boston at the Big A Aug. 9. (Actually, the 19 inning game started on Aug. 9 and ended Aug. 10.) I was there and, first, much respect for playing third base and playing it well in the later innings. Who knew?
Moving from my seat in the nosebleeds behind home plate to right behind the Angels dugout after midnight because so many had left and the ushers just didn't care anymore gave me the perfect perch for an indelible memory: you following your game-winning trot around the bases, jumpy celebration with your teammates at home plate and patient waiting for the official ruling that it was indeed a home run (even Boston fans who'd stuck around hoped it was) by getting into the faces of the Sox's Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli. It was if you were letting them know there is a new elite American League crew in town, and that team didn't arrive in Anaheim from Beantown. It arrived in Anaheim from Anaheim, the Refried Beantown!
By the way, that game also featured late-inning heroics by then-reliever Matt Shoemaker, who would help save the season as the fill-in starter for Garrett Richards. But this is not about Shoe, it is about you, Mr. P.
Screw Musial, Albie, you ARE El Hombre. Go build on that solid regular season (28 dingers, 105 RBI, .272 average, amazing glove), help win the AL and then bring the World Series trophy back to us. If you wrest it away from the Dodgers, all the better.
Your reward will be my consideration of linking this very heartfelt apology to the top of those previously mentioned foul balls I wrote so people can know and love the real you.
The bat is in your hands, amigo. Stay thirsty for a championship, my friend.