Albert Pujols won "NL player of the month" for August while the Cardinals went 11-15

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Albert Pujols has been named the National League’s player of the month for August, and rightfully so. He hit .379 and slugged .777 during the month, smacking 11 homers and eight doubles in 103 at-bats while posting a 1.230 OPS in 26 games.
And the Cardinals went 11-15.
All of which says two things, to me at least. One is that the rest of the Cardinals are really, really struggling. That’s not exactly breaking news given that they’ve fallen eight games back of the Reds in the NL Central and are now just 69-62 overall, but the point is hammered home when they have a .423 winning percentage despite the guy in the middle of their lineup hitting like Babe Ruth (or, like Albert Pujols).
Beyond that, it can serve as yet another reminder of how silly it is to let team success factor into individual award voting at the end of the season. Pujols may not be the best player in the league when all is said and done this season because right now Joey Votto is neck and neck with him, but if Pujols is the best it would be crazy to let the Cardinals not making the playoffs keep him from another deserved MVP.
Pujols did everything he could possibly do to help the Cardinals last month and they still had a losing record. The fact that his teammates collectively stunk doesn’t make what he did any more or less valuable, and that applies to full seasons every bit as much as it does to months. I’m really looking forward to the Triple Crown race between Pujols and Votto, and the MVP voting should be interesting as well, but I’m hoping Votto doesn’t get extra credit for his teammates performing better.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.