Saturday, July 30, 2011

What is a Milestone?

Last night we just happened to be in Busch Stadium in St. Louis when Albert Pujols got his 1999th and 2000th hits.  It was a bit like being there for "history in the making" but it also made me wonder what those milestones really mean.  Not taking a thing away from Pujols, one of the most positive representatives of the game of baseball, his 2000th hit was nothing overly electric or amazing in and of itself.  Bottom of the 8th, the Cardinals held a 9-2 lead and had played a very solid and error free game against the Cubs (yes, another “plus” for Cardinal fans).  As he strode to the plate you could feel the excitement and energy build.  The inning could have ended earlier with another strikeout, pop fly, or such, but it did not.  A brief meeting on the mound created speculation that with first base open, Pujols may be intentionally walked, but the classy decision to pitch to Pujols was made, and the drama continued.  Essentially the entire stadium was excited to see another attempt at history.  "Robbed" earlier in the game by an alert, quick, and able Alfonso Soriano, Pujols had his final chance in this game, and the crowd wanted to see it.  Sure enough, Albert Pujols delivered a hot smash down the third base line that caromed off the wall in left field, leaving him standing safely and easily on second base.  The crowd responded immediately with the gasp as the ball rocketed from his bat, the anticipatory cheers of hope as it cleared the infield, and the culminating outburst as it bounced off the green turf of left field.  As Pujols stood on second base, giving his customary look to the sky with a gesture of respect and thanks, the crowd continued to respond to the moment.  A tip of the hat, another wave of cheers, and back to the game at hand.  The last Cardinal attack was short lived as the next batter, Matt Holliday swatted one to right field, ending it with a fly ball.  No, the hit wasn’t spectacular, but the consistent march toward a milestone is.  Congratulations, Albert Pujols, on reaching that milestone and for the opportunity to do it with your son in the dugout.

Here are two other quick milestones that I believe may be just as impressive when talking longevity, although neither of them will be recorded as prominently as hit 2000:
Chuck Berry, wearing number 84 (for his age) and “Father of Rock and Roll” on his back, threw out an opening pitch.  Berry still plays monthly at Blueberry Hill and had a statue of him revealed earlier in the day.  Not to mention that he ran off the field with the energy of a six-year old, Berry was having a great time and enjoying the thrill of the night.

Also celebrating her birthday, Nina Mcartor tossed out an opening pitch, just missing the strike zone low and outside with a fastball.  It wasn’t probably a pitch that even Pujols would have been able to do much with, but realizing the lifelong dream of tossing that ball at age 100 is certainly worth talking about with the grandkids…great grandkids…great-great grandkids…???

Even though I'm still not sure what defines a milestone, maybe I would speculate that it varies from person to person, and event to event.  Some we recognize...on to 3000, Albert; some we simply appreciate...thanks, Chuck, for the memories you have made for us all; and some just make us smile...oh, Nina, to be able to fulfill your own 100th birthday wish.

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