Albert Pujols wants to prove people wrong? About what?

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It takes a special kind of person to play the “no one believes in me” card after getting a ten-year, $240 million contract, but Albert Pujols is apparently that special.  From Bob Nightengale at USA Today:

“I always have that chip on my shoulder, no matter what kind of success I’ve had,” Pujols says forcefully. “This is going to be an extra chip on my shoulder that I’m going to have the next 10 years, maybe for the rest of my life. I don’t want to ever change that attitude.”

Pujols has a guaranteed contract from the Angels that will pay him $240 million over 10 years — along with another $10 million when he retires — but he wants to prove people wrong again.

Pujols says he has no hard feelings towards the Cardinals. He even says he’s cool if they want to give another player his old number.  So I guess that makes me wonder even more what the whole “chip on his shoulder” thing is.  I suppose it’s about some people criticizing the size of the deal he got, but way more people criticized the Prince Fielder and Joey Votto contracts than Pujols’.  Everyone agrees that he’s the best in the game and had a $200 million+ deal coming. And he got it.

But of course, Pujols is an incredible athlete, and it’s hard if not impossible for people who aren’t to understand what motivates incredible athletes. What makes them tick.  If it takes Pujols thinking that he has to prove anything to anyone at this point in order to continue being awesome, hey, more power to him.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.