Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rick Reilly: Give Bonds' MVP Awards to Pujols!

Rick Reilly sets out to "right some wrongs, one MVP at a time,":

I have a U-Haul of hardware here for Jose Alberto Pujols Alcántara of the St. Louis Cardinals. You already have two MVPs, Albert, and you're about to get three more, since Barry Bonds ripped you off worse than Bernie Madoff to win the award from 2002 to 2004. You hit .335 and averaged 41 bombs those years and yet you finished second behind the clearly creaming Bonds in '02 and '03 and third behind Bonds and Adrian Beltre in '04. We're throwing out Beltre since, while he denies ever using PEDs, he fell off the face of the planet once baseball put in stricter steroid suspensions in 2005. If he wasn't cheating, I'm the Queen Mother. And this is history we're making here. It gives you five MVPs, and nobody else in baseball history now has more than three. Just don't let us down on this thing, Albert. You know what we're talking about.

It's hard to know where to begin with this.

1) You have to be a total sucker not to suspect Albert Pujols of using performance enhancing drugs.

Albert Pujols' long-time strength and conditioning coach, Chris Mihlfeld, was named in the Jason Grimsley report as having referred Grimsley to a source of "amphetamines, anabolic steroids and human growth hormone." Here's a completely non steroids-related story about how Pujols got started training with Mihlfeld:

"[Pujols] was really kind of a pear-shaped kid, heavy from the waist down, and that scared some scouts off," Meyer remembered. "And, like with a lot of Latin players, there were always the inevitable questions about his age."

There were other concerns about his defensive ability and where Pujols would fit on a Major League team.

Consequently, a frustrated Albert Pujols -- after spending a year at Kansas City's Maple Woods Community College, where he met strength and conditioning guru Chris Mihlfeld and started the process of building an Adonis-like upper body-- waited 13 rounds before getting the call from the Cardinals. [Emphasis mine]

2) If you're not going to suspect Albert Pujols of using performance-enhancing drugs, then maybe you should have more evidence against Adrian Beltre than an isolated fluke year before you write "If he wasn't cheating, I'm the Queen Mother." Had Beltre just not discovered steroids before 2004? If you're going to operate on the assumption that abnormal performance requires cheating, then why would you possibly give Pujols the benefit of the doubt?

Which brings me to

3) "Just don't let us down on this thing"??? WTF? Rick, if he used steroids then it's already happened! It would obviously just be a question of whether it will become public or not. See, Reilly's not a sucker at all. He absolutely suspects Pujols. Other than Barry Bonds, nobody has hit like Pujols, ever. As per point 1, you'd have to be a sucker not to suspect.

The only reason Reilly is pretending to believe that Pujols is "clean" is because after touting him as such, and larding him up with 3 MVP awards he didn't win, if he does turn out to have been dirty it will be that much more of a betrayal for him to write about.

Like an expert pool player, Reilly's setting up his next shot. So when someone comes forward a year or so later with a bunch of needles they claim to have injected into Albert Pujols' ass, he'll be able to put on his biggest hissyfit EVAR.

photo courtesy of Fredbird

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