It's a conspiracy. That's what some Cardinal fans on message boards and sports radio have been floating all week about "covering up" the lack of hustle by Albert Pujols, according to Sportress of Blogitude.
The debate began after a 4-3 victory over Atlanta on Monday. Pujols hit a ball off the left field wall in the first inning of that game, but didn't get to second base quick enough and was thrown out.
Big deal, right? Happens to the best of 'em, no?
Well, yes. Except skeptical fans in St. Louis noted that Fox Sports Midwest only showed a replay of Pujols' arrival into second and not whether he was running hard from the start.
That catch then sparked speculation that television intentionally didn't show St. Louis' biggest hero admiring his drive for a little too long in the box.
So is there any truth to that?
Tom Mee, a longtime director of Cards broadcasts, tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he's hurt that fans even have to ask:
"Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it insults me that people would think that,'' he said. "I respect the game too much. Our responsibility in the truck is to respect the game. That's something we take pride in. Anybody who thinks differently doesn't know what they're talking about.'
"There is absolutely no way that we would not show something to try to protect anybody. It would affect the integrity of the game and telecast."
My theory is that it was still early in the game and the crew in the production truck hadn't quite found their groove. So if there was any lollygagging to show, they just overlooked it.
The Post-Dispatch says that the reason some fans are suspicious is because the introduction of Mark McGwire on opening day wasn't shown either and some think they didn't want to televise any booing. (Mee also dismisses that notion as off-base.)
But, you know, whatever. Even if Pujols thought he had a leisurely home run trot ahead of him, he wouldn't have been the first or last slugger to make that mistake. Plus, he does enough good things on a daily basis that he doesn't need any TV network "covering" for him on the rare occasion that his effort lapses a little.
At any rate, I think we can safely file this "debate" under the things fans of good 15-7 teams obsess over when there are no other bad things to speculate about.