Why doesn’t Major League Baseball commemorate Labor Day?

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Will McDonald of Royals Review has an excellent post today. In it he wonders why Major League Baseball can see fit to honor Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Earth Day and cancer awareness with special hats or some other on-the-field shoutout, but not see fit to give Labor Day similar due.

He admits that special caps are a rather minor gesture and that they’re, you know, kind of ugly, but says “so be it, I want ugly hats thanking and remembering the efforts made by millions to build this country.” In short, if it’s good enough for the Fourth and Memorial Day, why not our nation’s workers?

Sadly, this is probably a reflection of where we are now as a society. Organized labor makes up a smaller portion of the workforce than it ever has. Even a great many of the people who do the working in this country have bought in to the notion — propogated by those who profit from labor — that unions are tools of the communists and giving any lip service to the rights of workers is a suspect and even un-American pursuit.

But viewing labor — and, by extension, Labor Day — in such narrow terms is a mistake. Sure, there is an obvious political overtone to any conversation about labor. But as McDonald notes, people have died in the name of worker’s rights.  People continue to die on the job to this day and always will.  Against that backdrop, to reduce Labor Day to an extra day off and to divorce it from its original purposes is just as much a mistake as doing so with Memorial Day or any other holiday which has at its heart a noble and reverent inspiration.

No, red white and blue caps aren’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things.  And I’d probably still say they looked bad if they wore them today, just as I do on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.  But I would like the chance to mock Major League Baseball’s attempts to mark the occasion. Because if I had that chance it means that Major League Baseball would be marking the occasion.

Enjoy your Labor Day, everyone.  But remember why we have a Labor Day to begin with.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.