Darren Richardson

Dec. 14, 2011

Sometimes, you just get one of those phone calls out of the blue that changes everything. I got one this afternoon. It was my cousin Pawnditty, owner/operator of The Pawnemoff, an upscale pawn shop near Lake Tahoe.

“Punditty!” he said excitedly, “Someone just hocked a crystal ball that can see into the future of baseball. It’s amazing!”

Pawnditty is prone to hyperbole – he once told me he had one of George Washington’s wigs only to find out later it was merely an aged ermine pelt – but I had heard of this mysterious baseball-savvy crystal ball before, back when I was prone to spending a little too much time in Las Vegas.

“Interesting,” I said. “Where did you get it?”

“The owner of S.A. Tires found it in the back of his rim room.”

“Fair enough,” I said. “So have you run the numbers on Albert yet?”

“That’s what I’m calling about. Boy, did Pujols blow it by going to the Angels! He’s really going to stink up the place. Bottom line: From 2012 on, he’s basically another Champ Summers.”

Who is another Champ Summers – Pujols?”

“Yup,” Pawnditty replied. “He’s pretty much well done for in terms of big productivity now that he’s gone to Anaheim. The crystal ball keeps coming back to Champ Summers at his best when I ask about Pujols. Summers had a career year with the Reds and Tigers in 1979. He swatted 21 home runs with 62 RBIs and hit .291 that year.”

“But those are nothing like the numbers Pujols put up for the Cardinals,” I said, stunned to be hearing about the imminent decline of “The Machine.”

“I know, but the crystal ball says Pujols is going average those numbers for the next five years, then he’ll start to taper off.”

“Then I guess it’s a good thing the Cardinals let him go, huh?”

“Not necessarily,” Pawnditty replied. “The cool thing about this crystal ball is that it not only sees into the future, it also sees into alternative futures had the Pujolian wave function collapsed differently. That’s without taking into account the so-called ‘many worlds’ theory, of course, where Pujols would be playing for the Angels in one universe and for the Cardinals in another.”

“Enough with the armchair quantum physics, Pawnditty! Just give me the numbers.”

“OK, here goes. Had Pujols stayed in St. Louis, he would have won the Triple Crown three of the next four years. The intangible yet undeniable ‘Spirit of St. Louis,’ which helped Lindbergh cross the Atlantic and has helped countless St. Louis sports stars achieve beyond their natural abilities, would have continued to shine on Pujols. In 2012 as a Cardinal, for example, Pujols would have hit. .377, smashed 55 home runs, drove in 155 runs, and scored 144 runs. It would have been an MVP Triple Crown season for Pujols.”

“So what are his numbers going to be as an Angel next year?” I asked.

“Not so good. They would be good numbers for a guy like Champ Summers, but that’s about it. Pujols is going to hit 24 home runs, drive in 68 runs and bat .287 for the 2012 Angels."

“I almost feel sorry for Pujols,” I said. “He would have preserved his legacy of greatness had he only stayed in St. Louis.”

“Yeah, but he has only himself to blame. The Spirit of St. Louis will be working against him instead of for him now. Check this out: If he would have stayed in St. Louis, 2014 would have been his best career year. He would have hit 93 home runs with 226 RBIs and a .444 batting average. Plus, he would have scored 202 runs and shellacked an amazing 26 triples. As an Angel, though, his 2014 is going to be pathetic by the Pujolian standards he set in St. Louis. He’ll hit .278 with 19 home runs and 58 RBIs.”

“That’s all pretty interesting, Pawnditty, but baseball is a team sport. Does the crystal ball see how the Cardinals and Angels will do as teams throughout the duration of the Pujols’ contract?”

“Glad you asked. First of all, it’s important to know that the Cardinals would have won every World Series from 2012 to 2020 had Pujols stayed in St Louis. With Pujols gone, the Cardinals will only win the World Series in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020. The Angels will make the playoffs in 2012, but that’s it. They’ll get knocked out by the resurgent Baltimore Orioles, formerly the St. Louis Browns. The Angels won’t make the playoffs again for as long as Pujols wears the halo.”

“As a Cardinal fan, I’ll sure sleep a lot better tonight, Pawnditty. Let’s just hope Albert Pujols can hang in there over the next decade as his hitting skills fade and he cries himself to sleep each night imagining what might have been had he stayed in St. Louis.”

“Yeah,” Pawnditty said. “But at least we know he won’t go hungry. I just hope he has the decency to kick some of that cash down to Champ Summers.”

“Or The Punditty Project,” I added.

“Yeah,” Pawnditty said sarcastically before hanging up the phone, “that’s gonna happen.”


Albert Pujols’ decision to leave St. Louis

The twisted world of Punditty’s imagination

checkoutmycards.com (Champ Summers image used by permission)

Career Stats for Champ Summers, baseball-reference.com


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