Albert Pujols' 600th home run came amid barely a shred of national buzz. There were 40,236 fans in attendance at Angel Stadium the night of June 3 when he launched a grand slam off the Twins' Ervin Santana to reach a milestone attained by just eight other players in major league history.
But the general sense of blasé surrounding the event suggested a big swath of the baseball-viewing public was either ambivalent or asleep. Milestone fatigue and the Pacific Time Zone can be a powerful combination in suppressing interest on a national scale.
Inside the workaday bubble, the teammates and opponents, pitchers, hitters, managers and coaches who've watched Pujols perform for the past 17 years know what he brings to the equation. Padres bench coach Mark McGwire, who spent the final year of his career as Pujols' teammate on the 2001 Cardinals, is on board with the idea that the second first baseman to reach the 600 barrier (after Jim Thome) might well be the greatest ever to play the position.