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Matchup/Game Thread Game # 53 at Cardinals

Andy Pettitte Anthony Reyes
3 - 6, 5.76 1 - 0, 0.00

You know what I think we need to do?

I think we need to ratchet up the Albert Pujols-and-steroids talk.

Hold on, now, I'm being serious here. Because I'm not hearing enough of it. It's like the 500-pound monster in the closet that no-one wants to talk about. The fact is, no-one's had a start like this to their season.

No-one but Babe Ruth, and a bunch of guys who we've pretty much pegged as steroid users.

Does this convict Pujols? Absolutely not. For one thing, Pujols is putting a spike in his game when you'd expect to see one, unlike some other players you could name. For another, I think you need to consider Mssr. Pujols' well-professed spirituality. It could be finger-wagging of a most ingenious sort, but you'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt there.

Fact is, I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt in general. I desperately want Pujols to be clean, and am pretty sure I'd be devastated if the opposite were found to be true.

As you know, I've spent a decent amount of time and emotional energy here this year making the case that not only weren't most major leaguers not cheaters, but they also were in general pretty decent sorts, considering their ultra-rich brat status. And if you know that, you know I've taken heat from those who consider my views to be naive in the extreme.

And I haven't backed down.

So the case of one Albert Pujols is a landmark one, let us say, for both the cynics and the possibly-naive. I would so very much like to be able to point to Pujols and say, "Here. Here is a gifted athlete who worked hard, didn't cheat, and did everything that the cheaters did. And then he did more, because he did it cleanly."

And if Albert takes a fall, my esteemed opposition will simply shake their heads sagely, as if they knew it all along. What did you expect, they'll say.

I'm not sure where I'll go then. I'm really not. I can live with a World Series appearance every 45 years, but I'm not sure I can live with a sport where you have to cheat to be the best.

So Mr. Pujols, I pray that you are not a liar and a cheat, and are simply a fantastically-talented pain in the goddamned ass.

And everyone else, including you Cardinals fans: ask questions. If legitimate, Pujols' jaw-dropping talent is deserving of no less.