Wait: is Albert Pujols a big jerk or something? Since when?

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I’ve had an interesting conversation with some Brewers fans on Twitter in the past few minutes.  It started when a guy named @brewfangrb called me and a couple others out for being critical of Nyjer Morgan in the wake of last night’s dustup with the Cardinals. The point wasn’t to defend Morgan — the guy and many others who later took up his argument were clear that Morgan wasn’t being a model citizen last night — but to ask why no one ever criticizes Albert Pujols.

So I asked: what’s on Pujols’ rap sheet? Because I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone talk about him in the way people talk about Nyjer Morgan. And it’s that equivalency that is important because it was the unequal treatment that set my critics off.

In response to my question I got (a) a link to an incident in 2006 when he said that Tom Glavine “wasn’t very good” even though he beat the Cardinals; and (b) I got many references to the fact that Pujols hot dogs his home runs (which he certainly does).  But beyond that ….?  Really, how is Albert Pujols a jerk worthy of equal condemnation to Nyjer Morgan, who has been a serial jackass throughout his major league career? And has less than a scintilla of a percentage of Pujols’ baseball accomplishments under his belt?  And yes that matters. If you can back your stuff up you should be afforded a little more latitude. That’s how cockiness and its attendant behavior works.

So sure, Pujols probably didn’t need to run across the field last night, as it did likely escalate things. But let’s keep in mind the entirety of the situation. Nyjer Morgan has a track record of charging the mound. He was clearly trying to provoke something last night.  If there is a situation where the biggest guy on the field can feel justified about getting between his pitcher and trouble that’s it.

But Pujols-as-jackass? Sorry, folks. Unless you can cite some examples apart from “he beats the crap out of my team all the time and I hate him for it,” I’m not buying.

UPDATE: I was just tweeted this link by its author. It’s a couple of years old, but it adds to the conversation I suppose. Pujols smirks on occasion, in a manner that allows a Brewers fan to fill the smirk with meaning. OK.

UPDATE: Another data point: Pujols once complained that he was snubbed for the MVP and that the MVP should come from a playoff team. The fact that the MVP went to Ryan Howard that year is enough — if I say any more about it — to set off the biggest comment sh**storm this blog has ever seen, so I’ll leave it alone.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.