Albert Pujols hit a solo shot in the sixth inning of last night’s game, but a kid — who thought he had some pretty sweet seats in the first row of the bleachers — got smacked in the chest with it. He was soon seen crying, though whether it was because of the pain of the ball or because he missed the catch with the glove he brought with him is an open question. But there was a happy ending: Albert Pujols saw the replay of it and sent the kid a bat.
Or maybe it wasn’t happy. Because now Pujols has created a perverse incentive against catching balls heading into the bleachers. Children everywhere will now thrust themselves, face-first, into home run balls, hoping against hope that they too will get a valuable piece of baseball memorabilia. Once this trend — that I’m no doubt not the first to recognize — becomes obvious, Mr. Pujols will be sued into the poorhouse and chain-link fences will be erected around the stands at every ballpark, transforming ballgames into something not unlike a prison rodeo.
Wait. That’s all crazy. Sorry. Just had a flashback to the old legal practice. I’m much better now.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.