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A Brief Stupid Story and Some Talk About Albert and the Sudden Realisation We Have a Day Game

I'm feeling very old this morning, and I'll tell you why.

Last night, I went to buy fireworks. Now, that probably doesn't sound like any kind of interesting, and it really isn't, but there's a little more to it than you might think. See, we don't have many traditions in my family (largely because we don't really like each other all that well most days of the year), but buying fireworks is one of them. Every year my mother, my younger brother, and myself all head out to Pacific, to Fireworks World. I'm sure at least a few of you from St. Louis will remember the ads they used to run, which focused on the fact Molly Brown's own building is less than, say, 30 yards in front of that of Fireworks World. "THEY TRIED TO BLOCK US OUT!!!" was the old tagline, complete with mid-90s techno music and promise of deep discounts. Well, the summer I turned sixteen we went out there about two in the morning on the second of July (they were always open 24 hours), and fell in love with the place. We've gone back nearly every summer since. It may be an odd tradition, but driving 60 miles in the middle of the night to buy fireworks is the best we have to offer in my family.

So anyway, I headed out there yesterday with my mother, Ryan, and his girlfriend Maria. I met my mother in House Springs and rode out with her; Ryan and Maria met us. Sadly, everyone's work schedules no longer permit the late-night jaunts; we went out about seven. As we walked in there was a kid, no more than sixteen and clearly very excitable, working as a salesman who began following us around. Personally, it bugs the living shit out of me when a salesperson won't leave me alone, but my mother chatted merrily away with the kid, being the sort of person who is always excited any time she can find a captive audience. The four of us walked around, picking out small bombs based on colourful labels, and Mom happened to mention to the saleskid that we go there every year, which he is, of course, very excited about, and she says, "But I really miss your ads and the big sign." He seems confused, so she explains about the ads and the large billboard they used to have atop their store, telling people on the highway passing by that, yes indeed, "THEY TRIED TO BLOCK US OUT!!!" He doesn't remember those, he says, and I, in an extremely out of character moment of outreach, turned and said, "It was back the first couple of years you guys were open, right around the time I started driving. I think it was '96 or maybe '97."

To which he replies, "Oh, well I was just two or three then, so I don't remember those." And for the first time I really looked at the kid, and realised he was now just about the age I was when we started this stupid ass tradition of ours, close to a decade and a half ago now.  Needless to say, I was not seized by a wave of nostalgia; rather, I was seized by a desire to grab the kid and shake him until his head flopped around like a bobblehead in the hopes my lost years would somehow shake out of him and I could steal them back. The urge passed, of course, but it was a close thing.

And that is why I'm feeling rather old this morning. Unfortunately, I'm relatively certain it's only going to get worse.

Isn't it nice whenever Albert briefly surfaces from his season of un-Albertian performance and shows us he is still, in fact, still Albert F. Pujols? What's remarkable, of course, is that as rough as his season has felt, just one big game and Albert is so close to his normal numbers he can reach out and tap them on the shoulder. It's abundantly clear he hasn't been right all year, yet here he is, still The Mang. (On a side note, I just mistakenly typed 'The Mange'. I think we should at least consider changing Albert's nickname to The Mange. Just saying.)

Albert is now, after last night's big game:

  • 6th in the National League in batting average, at .312,
  • 1st in the NL in home runs, with 18,
  • 3rd in the NL in RBI, at 57, 
  • 1st in on-base percentage, at .424, 
  • 3rd in slugging at .570, and 
  • 1st in the National League in OPS, at .994. 

It's been said before, but I'll gladly say it again: that's the sort of down season mortal ballplayers would offer up their firstborn to achieve even once. For Albert it's painfully ordinary.

I just realised, thanks to checking the schedule to try and calculate some numbers, that today's game starts at 1:15 central time. Because of that I'm going to cut this short and just post as-is. I apologise; if I had remembered it was a day game I would have written this last night. Sadly, I did not, but would like to get this up at least a fair amount of time before first pitch.

Oh, and if you're near a television or computer equipped with the proper selections, the Reds are currently playing the Phillies, Aaron Harang against Roy Halladay. The Phillies put a couple on in the first but couldn't push any across the plate. Halladay looks pretty good. It's on MLB Network as we speak.

Just treat this as the game thread, and I'll schedule an overflow for a bit later.

The Baron's Playlist for the 30th of June, 2010: The Elephant in the Room

"Song Against Sex" - Neutral Milk Hotel

"Courtyard" - Olivia Tremor Control

"A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger" - Of Montreal

"A Man Like Me" - Beulah

"Strawberryfire" - The Apples in Stereo

"Jane" - Elf Power

"The Playground" - Essex Green

"Madam Truffle" - Major Organ and the Adding Machine