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A Tale Of Two

Absurd Alberts

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The man known as Phat Albert has had downright shkinny numbers in 2012. Image by shgmom56 and used under terms of a Creative Commons license.
The Work Of Albert Camus, A Literary Icon of the 20th Century, Might Be The Penultimate Explanation For the Offensive Futility of Albert Pujols in 2012


By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

May 15, 2012 — Life is absurd. Everything that happens in between the time we exit our mothers and enter our graves is more or less without reason.

At least that was Albert Camus' contention.

And in order to defend that assumption, I am going to develop the most absurd argument I can think of and, in doing so, prove that Albert Camus was right and that our lives are a random assortment of events defined not by uncontrollable circumstances but by our collective will.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you the Albert Thesis, or How Albert Pujols Validates Albert Camus' Absurdist Theory.

As arguably the greatest writer of the 20th century, Camus argued that the search for meaning within the rhythms of life is futile. Because of this argument, modern critics often mislabel Camus as one of the preeminent existentialist authors of our time.

But they are wrong. Camus is hardly an existentialist.

Anyone who has read his collection of essays on the Free French movement during World War II knows that Camus hardly believed that life is random and, therefore, worthless. Rather, I would contend that he believed that life is random and, therefore, full of limitless worth.

Albert Camus - Biography

Those essays are full of impassioned descriptions of men and women giving everything, most often their lives, for freedom and the death of tyranny. And Camus commended them for it. He wrote homages to his friends and compatriots, compelling all humanity to act as bravely as they had: Standing up to evil in spite of the consequences.

And this is where the absurd and the existential diverge.

To Camus, life's irrationality does not make it futile. Rather, it makes it worth living. Because there is no God, there is no excuse to act despicably. Because there is no puppeteer controlling our actions, there is no valid excuse to remain inactive in the face of pure evil.

In The Myth of Sisyphus, he writes, "All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door. So it is with absurdity. The absurd world more than any other derives its nobility from that abject birth."

We can blame no one but ourselves when we fail to act in the face of the worst this world has to offer.

But is Camus' basic premise logical? Are our lives really an assembly of random of events without rhyme or reason? Are we simply creatures living within an anarchic existence, forced to develop our own logic and reasoning in an attempt to form the chaos into something beautiful and worth living for?

Camus' own life could be one example of the absurdist principle. After surviving World War II as a member of the Free French movement, the author died in a car wreck at the age of 46. As a writer who had already produced some of the most profound works of the 20th century, Camus died with what may have been his best literary years ahead of him. Left to nature, Camus may have died only 15 or so years ago, leaving behind one of the single greatest philosophical catalogues in modern history.

But he died. In a car wreck. Get it? It is fucking absurd.

Or is it part of some bigger plan?

These are important questions to ask. Because without them, Camus' whole argument falls apart. If the world has some order to it, whether it be God or man or otherwise, then his Absurdist reasoning ceases to exist.

So, is Camus right?

I would argue yes. And I will defend Camus' logic in much the way he defended it himself over 50 years ago in his seminal essay The Myth of Sisyphus. I am going to break down life into its absurd pieces in order to show you how absolutely bat-shit crazy it really is.

Only, unlike Camus — who is higher-minded than I and defends his argument with stories of suicide, war and human inaction — I am going to prove the absurd in a more modern context.

In this modern context, I think one Albert can help another. Specifically, Albert Pujols is the perfect example of the absurdity of human life.

Pujols, the greatest pure baseball player in the modern era and possibly of all time, signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this off-season after spending the previous decade with the St. Louis Cardinals.

While with the Cardinals, all Pujols did was mash 445 home runs, collect over 2,000 hits and drive in over 1,300 runs.

Those are Ruthian numbers folks. Over the past ten years, Pujols was the best player this side of Barry Bonds — and with a lot less speculation. I mean, Albert is big; but he never had the post-35 growth spurt that sent ol' Barry's home run numbers into the stratosphere.

So, is it absurd that a guy like Pujols, a low-end draft pick out of a junior college, could put up some of the best pure statistics in the modern era? Sure, but that is not my point.

In order to truly see that Pujols is the perfect poster child for the absurd, one has to look at his numbers in his first month with the Angels.

After signing an absurd contract that will pay him around $250 million over the next decade, Pujols came to Anaheim with some expectations.

And he seemed poised to deliver. During Spring Training, he hit .383 with seven home runs.

All was well in the universe.

Then the regular season started.

Since that point, more than 35 games ago, Albert Pujols has hit like…well, he hasn't hit much at all.

In over 142 at-bats this year, the Angels' slugger has hit one paltry home run, a fading liner that barely made it over the wall on May 6. In addition, he has posted a sub-.200 batting average and has knocked-in 12 runs as of May 15. In comparison, Bill James, the king of all baseball prognosticators, predicted a 2012 for Albert Pujols that would include a .316 batting average, 41 home runs and 120 runs batted in.

Albert Pujols Stats, Video Highlights, Photos, Bio

Pujols, the one guy who has consistently produced at an apocalyptic rate as continently as anyone else — even earning the nickname, The Machine — has not been able to hit a home run in the hitter-friendly confines of Angels Stadium.

And that is absurd.

How is it that a man can absolutely destroy every ball that is thrown his way for 10 straight years, and then hit rock bottom so fast?

I know American League pitching has a slight advantage over its National League counterpart, but this is just ridiculous.

To put this all in perspective, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers clubbed four home runs in one game against the Baltimore Orioles on May 8. In a few hours, Hamilton managed to quadruple Pujols' season output.

A night later, Colorado Rockies pitcher Drew Pomeranz equaled Pujols' homerun total with swing of the bat. And he did it the hitter's wasteland that is the Padres' Petco Park. And he is a pitcher for god's sakes.

If Albert Camus was alive today he would be just shy of 100-years-old. He would also probably be a soccer fan (he was French).

But assuming he followed American Baseball, Camus would most definitely take notice when it comes to the precipitous drop in production coming from the bat of Albert Pujols.

When a consensus first-ballot hall-of-famer cannot seem to hit a basketball with a tennis racquet, you know something is up. It is more than pitching. It is more than confidence.

It is absurd.

So, do you still think life makes sense?

If so, you’re obviously not an Angels fan.

Wayne Schutsky lives in Phoenix, Ariz. Follow him @ThemanofLetters.
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