Pujols: don't call me "El Hombre"

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Thumbnail image for pujols.jpgWe’re living in the dark ages of baseball nicknames. Most players don’t even have one, and most of those who do have dumb ones that rarely amount to more than adding a “y” or “ey” on to the end of their names.  In a sport that gave us “Oil Can,” “The Yankee Clipper,” and “Death to Flying Things,” it’s sad damn state of affairs. Even more sad is that we apparently now have to give up one of the few good ones out there:

Pujols politely asked that the media and fans refrain from calling
him “El Hombre,” because he believes it’s disrespectful to Cardinals
Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial.

“I don’t want to be called that,”  Pujols said. “There is one man
that gets that respect, and that’s Stan Musial. He’s the Man. He’s the
Man in St. Louis. And I know ‘El Hombre’ means ‘The Man’ in Spanish.
But Stan is The Man. You can call me whatever else you want, but just
don’t call me El Hombre.”

OK, I’ll grant that it’s hard to argue with his reasoning. But if you can’t pick your own nickname, you certainly can’t un-pick one others have bestowed upon you.  If you could, Dick Stuart wouldn’t be remembered as “Dr. Strangeglove,” and that weird kid from my high school who everyone picked on wouldn’t be doing 25-to-life at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex.

So unless someone can come up with an alternative nickname for Pujols — something as menacing as, say, “The Big Hurt” but which simultaneously captures Pujols’ class and grace — I’m sticking with El Hombre.

Sox, Astros look to take a lead, Brewers look to take command in tonight’s LCS action

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The Red Sox and Astros felt each other out for Games 1 and 2 and now things shift to Houston for Game 3. Each team faces a challenge of sorts here, with the Astros facing a right-handed starter for the first time in the series — they have hit better against lefties on the season — and the Red Sox entering the game with some questions about their bullpen, particularly closer Craig Kimbrel. Also of note: each team has a big bit — Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez — which has been cold thus far. Altuve has gone 1-for-8 in the first two games and Martinez is 0-for-7. Altuve is nursing a sore right knee and may be the DH this afternoon. Martinez, of course, will DH for Boston. It’ll be interesting to see if either one of ’em gets of the schneid.

In Los Angeles, the Brewers would take a commanding 3-1 lead with a victory tonight. As noted below, things are set up nicely for them from a pitching perspective, having basically everyone available in what will be, essentially, a bullpen game. The Dodgers have a traditional starter on the mound in Rich Hill, but since Walker Buehler went seven innings and Dave Roberts did not have to use his top relief arms, he’ll likely be calling down to the pen earlier than usual as well. Indeed, expect him to pull out all the stops he can to avoid falling into a 1-3 hole in this best-of-seven series.

Your viewing guide:

ALCS Game 3

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 5:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Dallas Keuchel
Breakdown:

Eovaldi is coming off seven innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and no walks in his Game 3 start against the Yankees in the ALDS. Earlier this year he faced the Astros when he was still with the Rays — as you probably heard by now, that didn’t go too well — but he’s been solid as a rock for Boston since the beginning of September, not allowing more than two runs in any start and blanking the opposition three times. Keuchel is working on seven days of rest since giving up two runs over five innings in his Game 3 of the ALDS. Sometimes people say guys with sinking stuff like his do worse with more rest but I feel like every time I’ve heard that for the past decade, a guy like him has either been just fine on extra rest or has gotten shelled on the allegedly good short rest they get. It’s mostly noise. So much small sample stuff this time of year is noise. Including the fact that Keuchel is 0-1 with a 9.15 ERA over four appearances against the Sox in his career. People say that stuff to have something to say. Like I just did.

NLCS Game 4

Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 9:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers: Gio Gonzalez vs. Rich Hill
Breakdown:

Gio Gonzalez will start the game, but as was the case in Game 1 when Gonzalez pitched just two innings, look for him to be an opener here once again. In Game 1 Craig Counsell used seven pitchers, with Brandon Woodruff going two innings and Josh Hader going three. Hader pitched yesterday but it was only two-thirds of an inning in which he only threw eight pitches, so expect to see him once again. The Dodgers, blanked yesterday, will need to show that they can do something against the Brewers’ best or this thing isn’t going back to Milwaukee for a Game 6 or 7. As for their starter, Rich Hill hasn’t pitched in eight days, last going four and a third against the Braves in the NLDS, allowing two runs. He’ll be pitching to Austin Barnes after Yasmani Grandal’s boo-inspiring performance in the postseason thus far sends him to the pine.