The schedule syncs with my phone and computer calendars. Alerts blare from each device 15 minutes before the start of each game. Sports apps on my phone push notifications when the game starts.
In that game, Pujols also hit his 699th homer, a monumental feat on its own.
Still, with his 700th bomb, the Hall of Fame-bound slugger cemented his place in the history books by moving into fourth place among all-time home-run leaders behind Barry Bonds with 762, Hank Aaron with 755, Babe Ruth with 714, and ahead of Alex Rodriguez with 696.
I’m a die-hard Cardinals fan. I have been since I was born. In fact, I’m named after 1986 relief pitcher Todd Worrell, and my wife and I named our son after Gold Glove-winning second baseman Kolten Wong. Also, I pay for MLB.tv to watch all the Cardinals games.
The two “birds on the bat” are serious in my household, and with all the alerts and calendars and subscriptions, I should have seen the dinger. I could have seen it, even.
But, I didn’t.
Because the game was on the west coast, it started late, so I started watching something else. In the back of my mind, I knew the game was happening. I even knew it was being aired on Apple TV+ as part of the streaming platform’s special agreement with the MLB, and, of course, I subscribe to that too because, like so many others, I’m a cord-cutter who wanted to save money by dropping cable and now probably spend more on the various streaming services than I would on cable.
I also figured I would get an alert from the MLB or ESPN app on my phone if Pujols hit his 699th long ball.
I was wrong.
My phone blew up with notifications only after the 700th. My heart sank, and I immediately switched to the game.
Of course, it was too late.
I desperately wish I witnessed it live, but I’m happy that Pujols achieved this milestone in a Cardinals jersey (he was a Dodger last season), especially since that is how he started his career and how he plans to end it by retiring after this season.
It would have been phenomenal if he’d hit this record at home in Busch Stadium. Fans would have gone crazy, just as legendary radio announcer Jack Buck urged fans to do in 1985 when Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith hit a walk-off home run to defeat the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, setting the Redbirds up to go to the 1985 World Series where they faced and eventually lost to the Kansas City Royals in seven games.
Also, it would have been outstanding for McLaughlin, who is the regular broadcaster for the Cardinals, to get the call on the television broadcast, instead of the Apple TV+ announcers.
However, what’s done is done. The most important thing is that Pujols did it, and his historic feat adds to an already historically relevant season for the Cardinals and baseball in general.
For example, the manager of the Cardinals this season is Oliver “Oli” Marmol, and at 35 years old when he was hired, he is the youngest manager in the league since the Cleveland Indians’ Eric Wedge in 2003, who was also 35 years old.
Two future Hall of Famers are some of the oldest players on the Cardinals’ roster, and they are catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Adam Wainwright. These two baseball juggernauts have been with the Cardinals organization for their entire careers. On Sept. 14, the duo made a record 325th start as a battery.
So, it’s unlikely this record will be broken anytime soon, and it’s particularly poignant because Molina has said he will retire at the end of the season alongside his friend Pujols. Wainwright hasn’t announced a decision.
And don’t forget that 104.2 mph pitch by Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sept. 27, which was the fastest pitch of the 2022 season up to that point. Ironically, that game also featured the slowest pitch by a non-position player of the 2022 season when Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas floated a 60.2 mph curveball to the plate.
Granted, various records are tied and broken each year, but this season there seems to be an abundance of achievements being made. As I write this in the waning days of September, there is a little time left for more regular season records to be broken, but as you read this, it will be time for postseason action, which is slated to begin today.
Since the Cardinals clinched the National League Central title by winning that Sept. 27 game against the Brewers, I’m looking forward to the final stretch of the season. I’m planning on the Redbirds making a deep run in the playoffs, and, with solid play and more stellar performances, I’m hopeful to see Pujols, Molina, and Wainwright lifting a World Series trophy at the end of the month.
No matter what, though, I’m looking forward to what baseball has in store. If the rest of the season is any indication, we are in for an exciting finish.
Todd Vogts is a native of Canton, a resident of McPherson County, and an assistant professor of media at Sterling College. He can be contacted with questions or comments via his website at www.toddvogts.com.