I was at Tuesday's Cardinals-Phillies game, my first Busch Stadium visit of the season, and when Albert Pujols's long fly ball landed foul the part of me that reacts instantaneously and negatively to every event in a baseball game and extrapolates untenably from the smallest show of weakness—the Jim Rome part of me—was convinced the Cardinals would lose. So close to Pujols's first home run this month, and then nothing to show for it except one of those postgame moral victories that don't do anybody any good.
Then he doubled on a totally different show of hitting competence.
This Cardinals team has a lot to recommend it; Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman have been outstanding, Jaime Garcia has somehow gotten even better than he was, and the bench and bullpen players, mostly young, who've been tossed through injury or ineffectiveness into the thick of a pennant race have responded much better than they did in 2009 or 2010.
But for me, Albert Pujols is still at the center of whether or not a Cardinals team feels right. When he's hitting, I'm confident; when they're winning in spite of him something just seems wrong.