May 1, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) hits a ground out to score Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta (17) against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE
There was polite applause in the first inning, a glimmer of hope manifested in civility. With each pathetic excuse for a plate appearance after pathetic excuse for an at bat that former superstar Albert Pujols made on Friday night in front of a restless crowd of Angels fans, though, the floodgates of frustration roared out their disapproval. Albert Pujols was booed loudly, thoroughly, perhaps regrettably, but it's come to this. And wasn't it a quick way down?
From the cheap seats, armed only with my binoculars I spied Team President John Carpino hovering in the slowly shrinking press box (one new luxury box has already been carved out of the 3B side and two more are under construction, squeezing Mark Saxon closer to Mark Whicker like a red dwarf gets pulled by a black hole). Carpino stood, swaying in mute agony, behind communication directors Tim Mead and Eric Kay, mimicking the crew of the Titanic huddled together on the bridge, waiting to hear from Captain Arte, his suite dark and empty, perhaps out climbing icebergs for future franchise decimation, Melancholia-style, one can suppose.
And here was the ugliest thing: as the boos loudly pulsated from the crowd each time that Albert slunk back to the dugout with his head bowed in shameful acknowledgement, it happened in the presence Jeff Mathis, former Angel and worst all-time franchise player based on OPS+ of men with more than 1,000 PA as an Angel. He has returned to Southern California with more homeruns than our free agent superstar and the boos meant for him have found a more internationally known player. The question now is not when Albert can act like a baby and head out of this hole, but whether he can at all.