Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pujols: More Than the Game by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth

Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth in Pujols: More Than the Game chronicles the life and spiritual walk of St. Louis Cardinals slugger and Major League Baseball MVP Albert Pujols. They chart his life from the poverty of the Dominican Republic, immigration to the United States and settling in the Kansas City area as a teenager and his quick impact on the game of baseball. Lamb and Ellsworth don’t just document Pujols life between the lines but also chronicle the efforts of Pujols and his wife Deidre to walk a consistent Christian life.

I have a bias. I’m a Cubs fan…so Pujols haunts my dreams. So I came into this reading not wanting to like Pujols. The writers are clearly fans of Pujols and they create a picture of a very moral man who makes choices out of his faith in God and a compassionate heart. In the end, the authors make it difficult for even a Cubs fan, hopefully Pujols’ 2012 team, to dislike this Cardinals’ hero. And the strength of the book is the stories of Pujols’ compassionate acts, these are the scenes where the reader get to better understand Pujols the man, father and husband. Honestly it’s the baseball scenes of the book that are lacking. The authors provide lots of names, numbers, facts and season summaries at a quick pace making it difficult to dig into the action of games and seasons. Also, the book lacks the young people with money acting silly sort of stories that one typically finds in baseball books. I don’t need stories of Pujols drinking and acting immorally but an excellent Christian witness would be stories of a young man really enjoying himself as he earns millions playing a game and being in top physical condition. Honestly this book lacks the funny and silly stories one typically finds in a baseball biography, that is not exploring the evils of steroids. Also, the authors do mention some negative incidents in Pujols career especially in incidents with the press, but they defend Pujols’ character strongly. In fact perhaps too strongly, giving readers a 20 point list of why Pujols has never used steroids, that could easily be boiled down to faith, integrity and bodily stewardship. Sadly, this book is at times just too bland to be considered a great baseball book.

Review Copy Provided by Thomas Nelson

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