Among the MLB's still-active, future Hall-of-Famers, it's fair to say Albert Pujols has the greatest numbers of the group (though I'm sure Adrian Beltre and Ichiro fans would have legitimate arguments). But a quick glance at Pujols' insane Baseball-Reference page could change their minds. On Thursday, Pujols could join Beltre and Ichiro in the exclusive 3,000-hits club, needing just two more after sending one to the fence and another over it for No.'s 2,997 and 2,998 on Wednesday night:
Getting to 3,000 is still one of the most remarkable feats in all of sports, and with the rate players are striking out nowadays, it feels like Pujols could be the last to join the club for a long time. After Miguel Cabrera (2,665) and Robinson Cano (2,406), the next closest active player is Jose Reyes with 2,100, and, call me crazy, but it doesn't appear as though he's coming up with 900 more anytime soon.
So the question is, why doesn't it feel like a bigger deal? Does anyone even care? Here's a look at Angel Stadium last night:
Not exactly a sell out. To be fair, Pujols needed four hits to get to 3,000, and now that he only needs two, it could be a very different scene when L.A. takes on the Orioles Thursday night. I'm not counting on Angels fans though, considering they've had the best player in the sport since 2011, and now possibly the most-fascinating player in the sport, and still can't seem to fill the stadium on a regular basis. While it's hard to blame them (they live in L.A., baseball can be boring, society currently has the attention span of a gnat, etc.), are you telling me Busch Stadium wouldn't be filled to the brim every night if Pujols were still in a Cardinals jersey? Not only would it be sold out, but Cards fans would be lecturing us 24/7 about how classy Pujols is, how he plays the game the right way and follows all the unwritten rules to a T, like his teammate Yadier Molina.
This isn't to say real, diehard baseball fans aren't paying attention. Obviously, that group cares. As for casual fans, I'd bet a majority of them wouldn't have a clue Pujols was currently two hits away. The MLB is terrible at marketing its stars (see: Mike Trout), but it's not for lack of trying. Look at any of the MLB's social media accounts and you'll see there's plenty of Pujols promotion.
For comparison's sake, including an incredibly-biased comparison, let's remember the last few guys to do it, starting with Derek Jeter, who got a one-hour long documentary about his quest for 3,000, on HBO for goodness sake (it's not TV, it's HBO). Being the shortstop and captain of the New York Yankees certainly added to the fanfare, as the stadium was electric every night leading up to his big moment. Yes, I was there, and it was still the loudest sound I've ever experienced at a sporting event:
Or what about Ichiro, who tripled for his 3,000th on the road at a packed Coors Field:
There's been plenty of great build-ups and scenes over the years, like Craig Biggio's single that he unfortunately tried to stretch into a double. Hell, even A-Rod brought the house down.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Angels fans are prepping to dance in the streets on Thursday night, maybe my East Coast bias is showing. But it just doesn't feel like it's as big a deal as it should be. That could be because Pujols isn't even the main or second-main attraction on his own team anymore. It could be because the Angels play at 10 p.m. eastern time every night, or it could be that Pujols is secretly not as well-liked as we all think. Whatever the case may be, when Pujols does get to 3,000 on Thursday or some time next week, he'll be just the 32nd player in MLB history to ever do so, and just the ninth since 2000. It's a rare feat deserving of rare attention, and it's not getting it.