Hot Times, Summer in St. Louis
Did you hear about this?Â Prior to Friday nightâ€™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.Â Luckily, he was conscious when team officials wheeled him from the stadium at the end of the game.
I donâ€™t blame the guy.Â Have you ever been to St. Louis in the summer?Â The heat is unbearable.Â The temperature typically reaches the mid-90s and often touches 100 degrees.Â Honestly, though, you could deal with the heat.Â If it was dry.Â Itâ€™s not.Â From about the first week in June through early September, the humidity remains constant at 100%.Â A St. Louis summer could easily double as a sauna.Â 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.Â Exiting a cool building to walk to a car feels like someone dropped a 50-pound flannel blanket on your head.Â To accurately approximate the combination of steam with the suffocating air, youâ€™d have to put yourself in the shoes of Zach Galifianakisâ€™s Alan when Mike Tyson knocked him out in â€œThe Hangover.â€
Amidst all this, Albert Pujols never overheats.Â He doesnâ€™t steam, doesnâ€™t singe, doesnâ€™t sear.Â I donâ€™t even think he sweats.Â Disobedient prisoners working on labor camps in the Old West spent less time baking in the sun than the Cardinalsâ€™ first baseman.Â 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.Â Â Â Heâ€™s hit .334, while averaging 6.43 homeruns and 19.46 RBI per month, while piling up a 1.056 OPS.Â At this rate, Pujols is a shoo-in for Cooperstown, and, with Alex Rodirguezâ€™s admission of steroid use and subsequent hip injury; he is undeniably the best player in baseball.Â Remove the chemical enhancements of Rodriguez and Barry Bonds before him, and Pujols probably deserves to hold that title for longer than he has.Â Take his numbers in the months of June, July, and Augustâ€”the most unbearably hot months of the year.Â 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.Â 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.
Iâ€™m the kind of guy that whenever I play pick-up basketball, I pack two extra shirts.Â If I go to any outdoor summer party, I toss an additional polo shirt into the back of my car.Â When the temperature in my classroom breaks 75 degrees, I desperately need a towel and a reapplication of deodorant by third period.Â During the summerâ€”especially in the month of Augustâ€”all I want to do is stay inside and hug my air conditioner.Â Meanwhile, in August, Albert Pujols hits .344, averaging 7 homers and 19.4 RBI per month, and builds a 1.083 OPS.Â 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 â€œhot hitter.â€Â Albert Pujols altering our perceptions of offensive success, what else is new?