October 26, 2014

Hot Times, Summer in St. Louis

June 29, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Did you hear about this?  Prior to Friday night’s game between the Cardinals and Twins at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, a fan fell almost a story from the upper deck to the lower concourse. Apparently, he had fainted in the 92-degree heat and more than 100-degree heat index.  Luckily, he was conscious when team officials wheeled him from the stadium at the end of the game.

I don’t blame the guy.  Have you ever been to St. Louis in the summer?  The heat is unbearable.  The temperature typically reaches the mid-90s and often touches 100 degrees.  Honestly, though, you could deal with the heat.  If it was dry.  It’s not.  From about the first week in June through early September, the humidity remains constant at 100%.  A St. Louis summer could easily double as a sauna.  Sitting on the Metro, I always expected to see old men wearing nothing but white towels wrapped around their waists.

Summer weather in St. Louis makes a person thank whatever god may exist for the invention of central air conditioning.  Exiting a cool building to walk to a car feels like someone dropped a 50-pound flannel blanket on your head.  To accurately approximate the combination of steam with the suffocating air, you’d have to put yourself in the shoes of Zach Galifianakis’s Alan when Mike Tyson knocked him out in “The Hangover.”

Amidst all this, Albert Pujols never overheats.  He doesn’t steam, doesn’t singe, doesn’t sear.  I don’t even think he sweats.  Disobedient prisoners working on labor camps in the Old West spent less time baking in the sun than the Cardinals’ first baseman.  Yet, in the type of weather that would make normal men wilt and crawl haplessly towards the freezer, hoping to bathe in a blast of cool dry air, Pujols remains a bastion of consistency.

In his nine seasons in the Major Leagues, Pujols has amassed astounding numbers.    He’s hit .334, while averaging 6.43 homeruns and 19.46 RBI per month, while piling up a 1.056 OPS.  At this rate, Pujols is a shoo-in for Cooperstown, and, with Alex Rodirguez’s admission of steroid use and subsequent hip injury; he is undeniably the best player in baseball.  Remove the chemical enhancements of Rodriguez and Barry Bonds before him, and Pujols probably deserves to hold that title for longer than he has.  Take his numbers in the months of June, July, and August—the most unbearably hot months of the year.  In summer, Pujols has a .337 batting average, belted 6.30 homeruns per month, drove in 18.9 runs per month, and built up a 1.058 OPS.  That means in the swelter that is the St. Louis summer and in the grind that are the dog days of August, Pujols raises his batting average by three points and his OPS by six points, while only losing an almost negligible .13 homeruns and .4 RBI per month.

I’m the kind of guy that whenever I play pick-up basketball, I pack two extra shirts.  If I go to any outdoor summer party, I toss an additional polo shirt into the back of my car.  When the temperature in my classroom breaks 75 degrees, I desperately need a towel and a reapplication of deodorant by third period.  During the summer—especially in the month of August—all I want to do is stay inside and hug my air conditioner.  Meanwhile, in August, Albert Pujols hits .344, averaging 7 homers and 19.4 RBI per month, and builds a 1.083 OPS.  Thus, when I typically just want to sit at the bottom of some secluded swimming pool, Pujols bests his career averages by 9 batting average and 27 OPS points, as well as .64 homeruns.

In weather that causes men to literally fall from the sky, Pujols redefines the meaning of the term “hot hitter.”  Albert Pujols altering our perceptions of offensive success, what else is new?

Josh Deitch thanks the Norse Gods for air conditioning…makes sense, right?  Follow him on Twitter or find him on Facebook.

Comments

2 Responses to “Hot Times, Summer in St. Louis”
  1. Mike Lynch says:

    Fantastic as usual, Josh. I once spent a summer in West Plains, Missouri and thought I was going to die. The humidity was brutal. If Pujols is clean (knock on wood), he’ll go down in history as a baseball God.

  2. Mark N. says:

    Once upon a time, I worked for a company in California that merged with McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, and as part of a computer system migration, they sent me to St. Louis for a week to help out while they picked my brain about the system to be moved.

    Between the time I left the hotel in the morning and when I arrived, probably 30 minutes later, at the work site, the humidity was already awful. Being a California dry-heat guy, I remember opening the car door that first Monday morning after arriving at the work site and feeling like I had just been hit with a bag of bricks. I can’t imagine how much it was costing MCD to keep the air conditioning running at full blast in the huge complex all day (and probably all night) long.

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