MLB

Pujols not 'chasing numbers' but will cherish 'pretty special' 700th homer

By Sports Desk September 24, 2022

Albert Pujols said reaching 700 home runs will be something he looks back on with pride at the end of his career after becoming the fourth man to reach the landmark against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.

The St. Louis Cardinals great announced in March the 2022 season would be his last in baseball, but he appears set to go out with a bang after enjoying an incredible second half of the season.

Pujols entered Friday's game against the Dodgers, his former team, with 698 career homers to his name and brought up number 699 with a crashing 434-foot blast in the third inning. 

The 42-year-old soon had his milestone, picking out a similar spot in left-field to put the Cardinals 5-0 up.

Speaking after a big 11-0 win, Pujols said: "It's pretty special. When it's really going to hit me is when I'm done, at the end of the season, when I'm retired, and probably a moment or two after that I can look at the numbers.

"Look, don't get me wrong, I know what my place is in this game. But since day one, when I made my debut, it was never about numbers, it was never about chasing numbers.

"It was always about winning championships and trying to get better in this game. And I had so many people that taught me the right way early in my career, and that's how I've carried myself for 22 years that I've been in the big leagues. 

"That's why I really don't focus on the numbers. I will, one day, but not right now."

Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) have now hit more MLB homers than Pujols, who felt no desire to try to reclaim the historic ball from the lucky fan who caught it. 

"Souvenirs are for the fans," Pujols said. "If they want to keep it, they can. At the end of the day, I don't focus on material stuff. I think I have the bat, the uniform, helmet, things that are special to me. 

"At the end of the day, I think that's why the fans come here – to have a special moment of history. So, if they want to keep that baseball I don't have any problem with that."

Related items

  • Atletico Madrid 5-0 Las Palmas: Llorente and Correa get hosts back on track Atletico Madrid 5-0 Las Palmas: Llorente and Correa get hosts back on track

    Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa both scored twice as Atletico Madrid thrashed Las Palmas in a huge 5-0 home win to get back on track in LaLiga.

    Javi Munoz hit the woodwork for the visitors early on, but Diego Simeone's men soon assumed full control when Llorente scored twice in a five-minute span to put them two goals up inside 20 minutes.

    Atletico ensured they warmed up for Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg against Inter in style when Correa struck 73 seconds into the second half, before doubling his tally from the penalty spot just after the hour mark. Substitute Memphis Depay then put the icing on the cake with a late long-range strike.

    The hosts were beaten by Sevilla in their last league match and had suffered an away loss to Las Palmas in November's reverse fixture, but they have now won four in a row at home and sit five points clear of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao and level with Barcelona, who face Celta Vigo later on Saturday.

    Data Debrief: Home dominance continues

    Atletico are unbeaten at home in La Liga this season, with 12 wins and one draw from their 13 league matches in front of their own fans. Looking further back, they have now gone 24 such games without defeat dating back to January 2023.

    Llorente's double was his first since scoring twice in a match against Eibar in April 2021, while Correa – who also registered an assist – had not scored in more than two months prior to this fixture. Atleti were worthy winners, accumulating 2.29 xG to Las Palmas' 0.59.

  • Teams need to get to grips with Wembanyama, says Raptors coach Rajakovic Teams need to get to grips with Wembanyama, says Raptors coach Rajakovic

    Toronto Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said teams must learn how to get to grips with Victor Wembanyama after the number one draft pick excelled in a win for the San Antonio Spurs.

    The Spurs ran out 122-99 winners over the Raptors on Monday.

    Wembanyama starred with a triple-double, entering the NBA record books in the process.

    With a triple-double of 27 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks and five assists.

    The 20-year-old became just the fifth player to record a triple-double that includes 25 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocks and five assists since 1973-74, when blocks became an official statistic.

    Wembanyama joined Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson and Ralph Sampson on that exclusive list, and Raptors boss Rajakovic believes teams will have to adapt to the rookie's stature in skill in the years to come.

    "Wembanyama is the player who's going to play in this league for the next 15 years. We need to figure out how to attack and how to play against him," Rajakovic said.

    "Definitely a player who's unique with his size and shot-blocking ability. We've got to do a much better job of figuring out how to play against that."

    "I felt great today," Wembanyama said after becoming the fourth San Antonio player to record 10 blocks in a game. 

    "Great rhythm, started the game strong. I guess it's just the NBA, you know. We've got ups and downs in terms of shape, and today was an up day."

    "He did a little bit of everything," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Wembanyama, who leads the league in blocked shots, and is now the first rookie with 150 blocks, 150 assists and 50 steals in a season since Tim Duncan in 1997-98.

    "Obviously he's an all-around, talented player. He's got a great feel for the game and it shows in a variety of ways, whether it's passing or making decisions, blocking shots."

  • Jordan 1-3 Qatar: Afif's hat-trick of penalties sees Asian Cup hosts retain title Jordan 1-3 Qatar: Afif's hat-trick of penalties sees Asian Cup hosts retain title

    Qatar retained the Asian Cup title as Akram Afif scored a hat-trick of penalties to seal a 3-1 win over Jordan in Saturday's final.

    Afif kept his cool three times from 12 yards at Lusail Stadium, completing his first international hat-trick, and becoming the first player to score one in the final of an Asian Cup.

    Yazan Al Naimat had brilliantly dragged maiden finalists Jordan level, cancelling out the first of Afif's spot-kicks, in the 67th minute.

    Yet with the help of VAR, referee Ming Na rightly awarded a further two penalties the hosts' way, with Afif's composure ensuring Qatar became the first team since Japan in 2004 to win successive Asian Cup titles.

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.