"Quite simply, no player has accomplished in one Series game what Pujols did Saturday night," says Joe Strauss in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the St. Louis Cardinals' 16-7 win. Pujols's three home runs, six RBIs, and five hits all tied World Series records, and he had 14 total bases and got hits in four consecutive innings, both new World Series marks. "In one night he shook not only Game 3 but also more than 100 years of World Series history," Strauss added. In doing so, Pujols gave Reggie Jackson a run for the title of "Mr. October," and has sports commentators basking in the slugger's glory. Just how good was this performance?
This was the performance for which baseball has waited for a decade. The World Series, truth be told, has been negligent in giving us iconic nights, the kind of nights with the biggest kind of wonder, the wonder that belongs not just to history books but the oral history of the game. The nights to tell your grandchildren about... The totems of the night, whatever they may be, will be gazed upon with wonder by baseball fans for generations. But what Pujols gave the game was something bigger than any glass case could hold. He gave the memory not just of a lifetime but of many, a night that will be passed on from generation to generation. It is a night that truly has no end.
How do we digest the magnitude of what we just witnessed? How do we make our brains process the unprecedented show that Pujols just unfurled in Game 3 of a World Series that might be his final act as a Cardinal?... We're going to be seeing those three majestic swings he put on three defenseless baseballs Saturday night for the rest of our lives -- on the flat screens in our living rooms, on the DVRs in our brains -- because you should never be permitted to forget nights like this one. And our memory banks guarantee that you never will.
Thank you, Albert Pujols. Thank you for rescuing this game, and for rescuing everyone who devoted more than four hours on a Saturday night to watch it. Until Pujols came to bat in the ninth inning, we'd wasted our time. All of us. Well, all of us but the Cardinals, who would win this thing 16-7 to take a World Series edge of two games to one. And I suppose Cardinals fans also considered the evening time well spent... None of us watches college baseball, because we want more. Saturday night, Albert Pujols gave us more. He gave us more offense than we've ever seen from a single player in World Series history. Before Game 3, that distinction probably belonged to Babe Ruth.
Now, the centerpiece of his career is clear. Find a more defining moment than the ninth inning Saturday: Pujols crossing home plate, slowing his trot, his silver necklace jangling with every step, his feet stopping, his index fingers pointing to the sky, his teammates good-naturedly refusing to speak to him in the dugout, both understanding and hardly grasping the gravity of it all.