Albert Pujols in 194 words

After the 105th homerless at-bat, a man to my left nudged a woman and whispered, “It’s OK, let’s go get some ice cream.” The game was young.

Albert Pujols. May 4, 2012.

After the 106th homerless at-bat, a murmur vibrated through the crowd. Phones slinked back into pockets with their cameras darkened, the moment delayed once more. Restless groans hovered over the infield.

After the 107th homerless at-bat, frustration seeped from the pores of Angel Stadium. “Come on, Albert!” bellowed a man adorned in a No. 5 jersey. As the slugger lumbered back to the dugout, scattered boos splattered his red helmet, like water on a windshield in a morning mist.

After the 108th homerless at-bat, the forgiving people cracked. “$240 million and not one goddamn home run!” a young fan barked with courage nurtured from seven innings of beer.

Albert Pujols trudged through the boos, his back slumped and shoulders curling inward, and down the dugout steps. He looked at nobody. Nobody looked at him.

I looked at the scoreboard.

Yes, in the third slot, it said ‘Pujols.’ The number hugging his name said ‘.194.’

The evening air no longer carried spring’s early chill.

Summer was moving in.

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