Shaq vs. Albert Pujols

Shaquille ONeal and Albert Pujols - Image courtesy of SI.com

Shaquille O'Neal and Albert Pujols - Image courtesy of SI.com

In the third episode of “Shaq vs.”, Shaq challenges 2-Time National MVP Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals in a home-run derby. Who will win the battle of the MVP’s?

When this episode was filmed it was stated that Albert Pujols has had 350 career home runs. “Pujols is at the top of his game.” This is why Shaq wanted to challenge Pujols. Shaq was a little nervous for this episode and it begins with Shaq talking to his trainer Mike on a jet about this latest match. When the jet approaches St. Louis, Shaq looks out the window and sees the St. Louis Arch and says “that’s the biggest golden arches I’ve ever seen”. I really hope that was a joke because that’s just sad if Shaq thought the St. Louis Arch was a McDonald’s.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

The Meeting
Shaq heads to Busch stadium and throws the first pitch to Pujols at a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds. Shaq then grabs a mic and announces that he challenges Albert Pujols to a home run derby. Pujols accepts and wished Shaq luck and added “Bring it on”! Shaq watches the rest of the game while chatting with Albert Pujols’s wife. Shaq tries to pick her brain in order to size up his opponent.

It’s training time!
Shaq first hits the batting cages with John Mabry (former teammate of Albert Pujols). Shaq is swinging away (but not well) and starts to work up a sweat and jokes that he now knows why professional players like Derek Jeter, and Albert Pujols get the big bucks because “it’s hard work”. Later on Pujols and his son (Albert Pujols Jr. aka AJ) stop by and help Shaq on his training. What great sportsmanship! Shaq takes a break and little AJ puts in a little cage time. Shaq says to AJ that every time he makes contact with the ball he can hit Shaq (light tap) on his butt with his baseball bat. Little AJ makes contact with every pitch so he gets to hit Shaq a few times. haha. After the batting cages, Shaq then trains with a Little League team. Shaq doesn’t do so well and he asks the kid playing the catcher’s position “do I suck?” and the kid responds with an affirmative “yes”. Ouch! Shaq is also heckled by one of the outfielders as he teased that the fence was “over here” (since Shaq kept hitting grounders that wouldn’t make it over the fence). Shaq shakes his head that even a 9-year-old was trash talking him and he looks at the crowd of parents and tells them to “discipline their kids” (in a joking manner). After a while, Shaq is able to hit a couple of home runs. Afterward Mabry says to take a break and they’ll practice some more. Then Shaq points to an Ice Cream truck and yells “ICE CREAM”! Shaq then treats the kids and himself to some ice cream. Aww…how nice!

Press Conference and Downtime
On to the press conference with Shaq and Pujols. A fans asked Pujols if he would take an easy on Shaq, and he says “no” because they are professional athletes and they are both competitive. Plus “if” he lost, he would “never hear the end of it” from his teammates. There are no side bets in this match, it is all about bragging rights unlike the “Shaq vs. Ben” and “Shaq vs. Misty & Kerri” episodes. After the press conference, Albert takes Shaq to his restaurant and there are kids there from the “Pujols Family Foundation” which is dedicated to the care and development of people with Down syndrome and their families. The kids are all excited to see Shaq and Shaq compliments Pujols on his foundation and how great it is as professional athletes to be able to give back to the community and perform charity work. Shaq then asks Pujols what inspired him to start his foundation and he says that he has a daughter with down syndrome and that was what inspired him to start his foundation.

It’s Game Time!
The showdown takes place in T.R. Hughes Ballpark. Shaq has a few handicaps in this match-up. He gets 10 outs while Pujols has 5 outs. Any hit that is not a home run is considered an out. Also, Shaq’s field distance (for a home run) is shorter than Pujols’s. Shaq’s fence is 250 ft to center and 200 ft at left field, where as Pujols has to hit the full distance where center field is 382 ft and 310 ft at left field. There are two rounds, and whoever hits the most home runs wins! Shaq is up first. Shaq is able to get his first home run on the 2nd pitch and then his bat cools. Little AJ comes out and gives Shaq some advice and with 1 out to go, he is able to get 4 more home runs in a row before he struck out making his first round total 5 HR’s. Pujols is up next and he is able to hit 4 HR’s with 2 outs remaining. The crowd collectively cheered “MVP” a few times, but Pujols ends up tying Shaq’s 5 HR’s in the first round. On to round 2, Shaq calls his shot like Babe Ruth and is able to hit a home run on the first pitch. Afterward his bat started to cool again but he manages to hit 5 home runs in the 2nd round bringing his grand total to 10 HR’s. The pressure is on Pujols as he gets ready for his 2nd round. Pujols’s first pitch in the second round is a home run! He is able to hit a few more HR’s but with one last out, the score is tied. One more hit for the win, and with the next pitch Pujols is able to hit a home run! Albert Pujols wins the battle of the MVP’s and now the score is 11-10. Everyone cheers and for the fans, Albert gets set to hit some more (since he still had one more out). Pujols is able to hit 5 more home runs before he hits his last out bringing his grand total to 16 home runs. On his last out, Pujols was able to hit 6 consecutive home runs for the win with a final score of 16-10. Shaq then jokes that “if you can’t do it, then shut your *darn* (edited for clean content) mouth”! Shaq then thanks little AJ and congratulates Pujols and Pujols has one final bet for Shaq. He bets Shaq that he can’t strike him out. Shaq rises to the challenge, and on the first pitch [to Pujols] – *BAM* it’s a home run. Shaq concedes and runs (like he was scared) off the field. Funny stuff…

Next week is Shaq vs. Oscar De La Hoya. Here is a preview of the episode from TMZ.com. Stay tuned for the recap! 🙂 If you missed this episode or want to watch it again, the full episode can be seen on ABC.com.

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