While the Cardinals and Brewers were going back and forth toward putting up four runs a piece heading into the seventh inning (yes, I tuned in just in time to see Matt Holliday’s three-run jack) tonight, I was finishing up some work around the house, dinner, and feeding my curiosity with the Shaq Vs. television show that featured the Cardinals’ own Albert Pujols.
(Oh leave me alone, it was a long day and I was keeping tabs on the score via the iPhone.)
The show was fairly entertaining, despite somewhat haphazard coverage of the actual contest itself. More on that later.
The hour-long episode opened with O’Neal’s appearance at Busch Stadium to throw out the first pitch before the Cards’ game versus the Reds on August 11th. Shaq threw the pitch to Pujols, then subsequently challenged Albert to a home run derby, a pre-arranged event for the taping of the show – which took place at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, MO, the home of the Frontier League’s River City Rascals.
I did enjoy seeing the “behind the scenes” work that Shaq did in the cages with former Cardinal John Mabry (and to some extent, getting pointers from Albert’s son A.J. as well). As big as the self-proclaimed “Shaqie Robinson” is, he seemed to make quick progress with Mabes (I understand the reality of edited shows and the fact that he was probably doing lots of prep off-camera, but what he did while in town was impressive nonetheless).
The show proceeded to move to a Little League field where Shaq continued to hone his batting skills, finishing up with buying out an ice cream truck for himself and the kids.
Shaq and Albert made an appearance at Pujols 5, Albert’s namesake restaurant in Westport, to sit down for a meal with some kids from the Pujols Family Foundation. The Foundation aims to help those with Down Syndrome. Albert and Shaq enjoyed themselves with the kids, and Shaq applauded Albert’s efforts. One of the highlights of the visit was a young girl in a cheerleader uniform, showing Pujols’ nameplate and number 5 on the front, with an O’Neal nameplate and his number 32 on the back, complete with glitter abound.
On to the competition…
Well, it was kind of a competition.
Shaq was given ten outs per round under standard home run derby rules (anything not a home run is an out). Pujols received only five outs per round, each hitter going two rounds.
That wasn’t all.
Shaq had the fences moved in to 250 feet at center field, 200 feet down the lines to qualify his “home runs”. Pujols had to swing for the actual fences at T.R. Hughes. O’Neal was further extended the courtesy of having no fence at the huge light-up “V” stanchions that were integrated with his fence, so one of his home runs made it over the line of the fence, but didn’t actually clear anything. It just went beyond where the fence would’ve been, if not for the light up letters.
As previously mentioned, the show’s coverage of the actual contest itself was a bit haphazard – editing cut the competition down to pretty much only the swings, but I’m willing to admit to being entertained by just about anything Pujols does.
Shaq opened up the first round with five hits over his fence in his ten outs. Pujols followed with five home runs in his five outs during that round.
Ryan Ludwick was on hand to cheer Shaq on and give pointers as Mabry pitched to the newest Cleveland Cavalier. Dave McKay threw to Pujols.
The second round saw Shaq add five more over his fence, for a total of ten between the two rounds.
Pujols’ second round saw him tie the score at ten with only one out to give. Pujols mashed the next pitch for his eleventh home run, then continued to hit moon shots out of T.R. Hughes, much to the delight of the 6,500 in attendance, until he put up fifteen total before making his fifth out.
It was fun to watch because Pujols was involved. I don’t envision myself tuning in to Shaq Vs. again, although it is hard to deny O’Neal’s likability and overall showmanship. Glad Pujols didn’t get hurt, enjoyed the bit with his Foundation kids…must’ve been cool to be at the park that night.