In my first ever post for NotGraphs, I wrote about feeling sorry for C.C. Sabathia after a bad start, even though I know that he makes millions of dollar bills. I wrote “You ever watch a kid try to do something and not be able to work it out? They just watched some other kid do the same thing, but they just can’t get their chubby, tiny hands around the pieces to do the thing themselves? Or when an older woman starts digging for change in a tiny coin purse and she just can’t pull the pennies out because her hands are shaky? That look. Helplessly watching someone struggle with something they know they should be able to do is in my all time bottom five of feelings, right next to when I make a special trip to 7-11 and the coke side of the slurpee machine is broken.”
Which is exactly how I feel watching Pujols this year. I’m not going to join in the discussion of whether he’ll turn it around, because I’m not an expert on swing mechanics or regression and aging. He’s on my home league fantasy team — I used my first draft pick on him two years ago and people made fun of me the following year when I used my one “franchise pick” on Matt Wieters instead, but obviously that doesn’t look so dumb now. Which isn’t to say that I anticipated this, not by any stretch. I put him on my bench the other day and played Todd effing Helton instead. It felt so wrong that it made me kind of nauseous.
Selfish complaints aside, I just feel sorry for the guy. Maybe other people (Angels fans? St. Louis fans?) look at Albert and see a guy who’s raking in millions and not doing shit for it. I see the same thing, except I just know it just kills him. This guy cares so much that it physically hurts me to watch him fail. He’s so stoic about everything and there’s barely ever any outward sign of his frustration — which just makes it all the more poignant to me. Now the Angels have fired his hitting coach, which will either “work” as a placebo to start to improve his season, OR make him feel even more guilty because a guy lost his job over something that we all know deep down probably wasn’t really his fault.
It gets better?