There’s a lot of talk about Pujols right now. The big contract, the move from St. Louis to the American League, all of it. And I’ve even written about Albert Pujols here and here. But perhaps there’s another Pujols-related discussion that can be had at this moment in time. And a fundamental wrong that can be addressed and corrected.
I wrote a piece about the “Mendoza Line” a few weeks ago. In it, I argued that the term is a misnomer because Mario Mendoza, who the Line is named for, actually ended up as a .215 hitter for his career. If it wasn’t for some ribbing from his teammates, who repeated it to George Brett, who then repeated it to Chris Berman of ESPN, this term wouldn’t even exist.
And yet the “Mendoza Line” continues to exist, despite the fact that it technically doesn’t even apply to Mendoza. It’s like calling the site of an important Revolutionary war battle Bunker Hill, even though the battle was fought on Breed’s Hill instead. But a hill is a hill, and Mendoza is a person. A living, breathing person, who has lived for decades with a title he doesn’t deserve.
Enter Luis Pujols. I don’t think he’s related to Albert in any way. He came into the majors in 1977, and never saw anything resembling regular playing time. He backed up Alan Ashby as the Astros catcher for most of his career, and his final appearance in the big leagues was in 1985 with the Texas Rangers. Ironically enough, he singled off of Dan Quisenberry in his final at-bat.
Unlike Mendoza, who ended up hitting several points above the line that bears his name, Luis Pujols ended his career with a .193 batting average. When his playing days were over he became a coach, and ended up managing the Tigers during a mostly disastrous 2002 season, which I wrote about here.
My point here is that the .200 batting “line” given to us by George Brett and Chris Berman should be renamed. It’s not fair to Mendoza to have to live with this. If you want to name it for a person, which doesn’t seem necessary to me but might be what it takes to get the title away from Mendoza (something like “Tag, you’re it!” in real life), I suggest naming it after Luis Pujols. The “Pujols Line” won’t work, for obvious reasons, but perhaps the “LuPu Line” would work instead.
“LuPu” is a condensed version of Luis Pujols’ name, but it doesn’t bring shame or dishonor to anyone’s name in particular. According to his page on Baseball-reference.com, Luis Pujols didn’t seem to have a nickname, anyway. Perhaps he would have been called this in today’s game, where nicknames like “ARod” and “V-Mart” are common, but as it now stands, “LuPu” has no meaning at all. Apart from the “LuPu Line,” that is.