Cheating is what broke last night's game wide open. And that cheater was one Alberto Jose Pujols. Going back to last night's 5th inning, the Reds were leading 2-1 in a jam. The Cardinals had one out and the bases loaded with Ryan Ludwick at the plate. Ludwick grounded the ball to the 3rd baseman Keppinger, who quickly threw on to Brandon Phillips for the force at 2nd, and Phillips would've been able to turn the double play to end the inning and leave the sacks loaded, but Albert Pujols pulled a fast one. He ran out of the baseline and right at Phillips, obstructing him from making the throw. Pujols should have been called out. Per the MLB official rules:
7.08 Any runner is out when -- (a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. (b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball;
If you saw the replay, and someone feel free to post it in the comments if you have it, it appeared APu was a good three feet inside. Then there is also this rule:
2.00 INTERFERENCE (a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter- runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by these rules.
I think Pujols knew exactly what he was doing. You know what followed: Ryan scored from third, Jimmy hit a 2 RBI double and Yadi drove in Edmonds for a 4 run inning and the Cardinals built on the lead from there on. The game could've looked a lot different had Albert not got away with it, but I'd venture to say the outcome still would've been a the same given how bad their bullpen is. But who knows for sure?
My point isn't to single out Albert as a cheater. Almost all ballplayers cheat in one form or another. This cute type of "white" cheating is just part of the game, it isn't going to go away. Teams steal signs, make phantom tags, and once in a blue moon you see a hidden ball trick. And you also have, like it or no, those ball greasers out there like Kenny Rogers. I can stomach that stuff. It's just part of the game. It's the bad stuff like gambling on baseball and steroids we shouldn't tolerate. Give Albert for playing some credit for playing heads up baseball, had he got caught it still would've been a DP. He may have saved his teammate Ludwick from being a goat. Brandon Phillips may not have liked it, but in the same situation if he was thinking, he probably would've done the same thing, too.
It feels good to be back at .500, now if these jerks in front of us would stop playing the Pirates or whoever and start losing again...