Jake Arrieta tells Stephen A. Smith where to stick it

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Well, not explicitly, but about as much as you’ll see an athlete do it to a media personality on Twitter.

Yesterday we wrote about how Jake Arrieta is dismissive of whispers that his next-level performance in the past two years is a result of performance enhancing drugs. And such whispers, to the extent they exist, should be dismissed. Unless “developed a cutter” is now a PED, but I’ll have to check the Joint Drug Agreement for that.

Either way, today ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless decided to churn that nonsense some more, doing the classic “we’re not saying, but we’re saying  . . .” thing, citing Arrieta’s innings and improvement and piling on the strong implications that they think he’s juicing. Or at the very least, that he should sit quietly, idly and reverently by while guys like them spew their innuendo about it lest someone think he protests too much or whatever. It’s a frame game as old as time itself, born of Smith and Bayless’ narcissism and shamelessness. If you hate yourself and want to watch them on video saying this, it’s your funeral.

Arrieta was not going to take it lying down. In response to Smith shaming Arrieta for his alleged “laughing off” of the whispers, Arrieta said this:

And, because Smith’s guns have historically blazed in inverse hotness to the heat with which he is confronted, he replied thusly:

“The best to you.” Please. If you wish the best to anyone you’d not make baseless accusations for the purpose of “selling the controversy” or whatever useless thing your show purports to do. Treat people in a straight-up manner and offer a little “best to them” beforehand, not just when they call you out on your schtick.

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.