Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has kissed Rob Manfred’s ring

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Let’s take a trip back to early last February. The hot stove season was as cold as ice. Despite spring training being less than two weeks away, scores of players remained unsigned and rumblings emerged that, perhaps, collusion was to blame.

The players were frustrated and there were reports that they were approaching the union to ask what, if anything, they could do about it. Some suggested some sort of wildcat strike or work slowdown or whatever. None of that seemed feasible or legal, but guys were getting desperate. And not just players. One agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA, took to Twitter to suggest something novel along these lines: a potential spring training boycott:

There is a rising tide among players for radical change. A fight is brewing. And it may begin with one, maybe two and, perhaps, 1,200 willing to follow. A boycott of Spring Training may be a starting point if behavior doesn’t change.

There was a lot more to that — Van Wagenen issued a whole statement attached to his tweet taking the owners to task and clearly implying that he believed the owners were acting less-than-scrupulously — but I can’t remember what it said and I can’t check because, at some point between then and now, Van Wagenen deleted it.

Probably because he is now the general manager of the New York Mets, putting him on the side of management, not players. Probably because he now, ultimately, answers to Rob Manfred. The same Rob Manfred, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports, met with Van Wagenen at the just-concluded owners meetings down in Atlanta.

Based on Davidoff’s report — which deals specifically with Van Wagenen’s February tweet — it sounds like they have come to an . . . understanding about it all. Manfred:

“Brodie called me right after he accepted the job,” Manfred said during a news conference. “We had a really good conversation. I think that he understands the concerns that a comment like that raises amongst our group. But I have every confidence that he’s going to conduct himself in a way that will make him a really productive member of the baseball family.”

“Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your daughter… ‘s wedding… on the day of your daughter’s wedding. And I hope their first child be a masculine child. I pledge my ever-ending loyalty,” Van Wagenen did not add but may as well have.

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.