UPDATE: Pujols responds to the no-show claims

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UPDATE: Sam Mellinger, who ran the original story this morning regarding Albert Pujols and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, received a response from Pujols’ foundation:


Albert’s wife, Deidre is expecting their fourth child this week. She
has been given “any minute” status from her doctor since last Monday.
Albert has asked us not to accept any interviews or appearances that
would take him away from his wife for more than a few hours at a time.
(Personally I am surprised that he left Dee Dee alone to make the quick
trip to KC, even for the day.)

Never forget, the ‘game’s greatest player’ is also a husband and a
father. Those are two roles he will always put before personal
achievement, awards or accolades. Knowing Albert, as I do, I can safely
tell you that in no way was his absence meant as a sign of disrespect
to the Museum, it’s history, or it’s it’s staff. Albert’s mind was
simply focused on finishing his obligation in KC (the hitting clinic)
and getting home to his pregnant wife in St Louis.

I appreciate you standing up for the Museum. They need a champion
right now. But, your blog seemed a little heavy-handed torwards a guy
who clearly did the right thing. Remember, there are always two sides
to every story.

Todd Perry
Executive Director, Pujols Family Foundation

Like I said this morning, Pujols’ history entitled him to a response before we cast judgment. Now he’s responded, and put any judgment I would have had in the drawer for someone more deserving. Sure, I’ll observe that part of the problem was reported to be Pujols’ failure to be clear with the museum regarding whether he’d come or not and that a clear and early “no” would have prevented there being an issue, but I think that’s a good enough answer. I have a couple of kids and had out of town trials scheduled around each of their due dates, so I know how nerve wracking it can be to be several hours from home when the bun is about to emerge from the oven.

Case closed as far as I’m concerned.  Now: everyone take a trip to Kansas City and visit the museum. And if you can’t make it there personally, at least consider becoming a member.  It’s a really fabulous place and it deserves some support.

12:28 P.M.:  The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is in financial trouble.
Though this is reason for concern, this is not exactly news, as the
Museum has been struggling for a few years now. But on a weekend when
the Museum gave out their Legacy Awards, Albert Pujols didn’t help matters any:

Too bad baseball’s best player didn’t come to make it better. The
museum gave him two awards. He accepted neither in person, and didn’t
record a video thank you like several others who couldn’t show up —
and like he’s done in the past.

Pujols was in Kansas City this weekend, you know. He worked a
hitting clinic and signed autographs for kids at a facility in north
Kansas City on Sunday. Word is he drove from St. Louis and back to do
the clinic – a good
cause on its own – so he could spend more time with his family. The
problem with that is he owns a house in Kansas City. The other problem
with that is there are hotels in Kansas City . . . If Pujols would’ve
come to be honored, the museum surely could’ve
sold more tickets in a year they’re in desperate need of money.

No one is obligated to do anything of this nature, and given Pujols’
history of being an eminently standup guy it’s probably worth hearing
his explanation for leaving the Museum in the lerch before casting judgment. Still, given how much trouble the joint is in, they really didn’t need this.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.