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Albert Pujols is in legendary company.

With his 700th home run, the St. Louis Cardinals slugger has accomplished a feat that only Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds have managed. His placement under them on the all-time home run list tells you just how incredible his 22-season career has been.

Pujols has been in the league for such a long time, in fact, that the world looked very different when he hit his first home run, in April of 2001, off the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Armando Reynoso. Here’s a look back at just how much things have changed in the intervening years.

Baseball and other sports

We can get such a sense just from looking at the Cardinals’ and Diamondbacks’ rosters at the time Pujols hit his first. Pujols batted fifth in that early-season game. Batting ahead of him were Fernando Vina, Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew and Ray Lankford. All of them were legitimately good players — none of them has been in MLB since 2011. Mike Matheny batted after Pujols — he’s now managing the Kansas City Royals and has been a major league skipper since 2012.

Their opponents, the Diamondbacks, would go on to win the World Series that year. Their lineup was a who’s who of Baseball Guys — Tony Womack (last game in 2006), Mark Grace (2003), Luis Gonzalez (2008 — and this was the year in which he hit 57 homers), Matt Williams (2003), Steve Finley (2007) and Jay Bell (2003), just to name a few. Grace, Williams, Finley and Bell all started playing major league baseball in the 1980s.

This was a year of incredible numbers in baseball. Bonds famously hit 73 home runs (and walked 177 times), Ichiro Suzuki led the league with 242 hits, Randy Johnson struck out 372 batters. The oldest player in the league, 44-year-old Jesse Orosco, was born in 1957. Even then, among all this incredible talent, Pujols stood out, winning Rookie of the Year honors with 37 home runs and a 1.013 OPS.

When Pujols hit his first, Tom Brady had 6 career passing yards. He’d end up filling in for an injured Drew Bledsoe in the 2001 NFL season, on his way to leading the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win. Now he has seven Lombardi trophies, and has added almost 85,000 passing yards to those initial six.

Ed Reed was a senior on the Miami Hurricanes’ 2001 National Championship team. He then played in the NFL, retired and made the Hall of Fame, all before Pujols hit No. 700.

LeBron James was just starting to make his name … in high school. James was a sophomore at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in April 2001.

Nolan Gorman, Pujols’ teammate this year on the Cardinals, was not yet a year old. Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco was barely a month old. LaMelo Ball wouldn’t be born until August.

Technology

Not only was the original iPhone still six years away from release, the original iPod wouldn’t come out for another six months. iTunes was only 4 months old.

Anyone looking to buy an original Xbox would have to wait — the debut console didn’t come out until November. This was, however, an incredible year for video games. The original “Halo: Combat Evolved” would launch that year, as would “Max Payne,” “Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal,” “Super Smash Bros. Melee” and “Unreal Tournament.” By year’s end, console gamers would have their choice of the Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, or Dreamcast.

Wikipedia, now a ubiquitous source of information and ultimate resolver of barroom debates, was only 4 months old by the time of Pujols’ first home run. Pujols himself wouldn’t have a Wikipedia page until June 2004.

Pop culture

The Harry Potter, Fast and the Furious, and Ocean’s franchises would all debut in 2001 — as would “Shrek,” which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature that year. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” would gross more than $317 million in 2001. That means Pujols’ career outlasted the 11 total movies in the Potter and Ocean’s franchises. In April of that year, when Pujols hit his first, the highest-grossing film was “Spy Kids” with more than $17 million.

The Billboard top song of April 2001 was a Shaggy beat … and surprisingly, it wasn’t “It Wasn’t Me.” Shaggy’s “Angel” was in the middle of a two-month run as the top song when Pujols launched No. 1. Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” was the most successful song of the entire year. Future Billboard No. 1 artist Billie Eilish wouldn’t be born until December.

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Sources: Ex-Buffs QB Shrout picks Arkansas St.

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Sources: Ex-Buffs QB Shrout picks Arkansas St.

Former Tennessee and Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout is transferring to Arkansas State, sources told ESPN.

Shrout visited Arkansas State over the weekend and his commitment looms as a significant win for Butch Jones, who is entering his third season as Arkansas State’s head coach.

Shrout will graduate from Colorado this spring and plans to enroll at Arkansas State in May, according to sources. He has one year of eligibility remaining and potentially a second if he gets a medical redshirt after missing the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL.

Shrout most recently played at Colorado in 2022, where he threw for 1,220 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions and delivered the game-winning touchdown pass against Cal in overtime in Colorado’s lone victory of the season. He started seven games at Colorado and had one start during his three seasons at Tennessee (2018-2020).

Shrout is one of three Buffaloes quarterbacks who have entered the NCAA transfer portal since the school hired Deion Sanders as head coach. Sanders has made it clear that his son, Shedeur, will be the starter next season. He introduced him at his opening news conference by saying, “This is your quarterback.”

According to sources, Shrout was attracted to the potential opportunity at Arkansas State, including playing in offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf’s West Coast-style offense. Shrout also had some teammates at Tennessee who played for Jones, and sources said the former teammates endorsed Jones both as a person and a coach.

Arkansas State (3-9) ranked No. 118 in total offense last season and No. 85 in scoring offense. The Red Wolves open the 2023 season at Oklahoma on Sept. 2.

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Georgia’s Bennett arrested for public intoxication

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Georgia's Bennett arrested for public intoxication

Former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to their second straight CFP National Championship earlier this month, was arrested on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge in Dallas on Sunday morning.

In a statement to ESPN, a Dallas Police Department spokesperson said officers responded to a report of a man banging on doors in the 1600 block of Tribeca Way at 7:10 a.m. ET on Sunday.

“The preliminary investigation found when officers arrived, they located the man, Stetson Bennett, 25, and determined he was intoxicated,” the police statement read. “Bennett was taken into custody, transported to the City Detention Center and charged with public intoxication.”

Bennett left the detention center Sunday morning, but he could not be reached for comment.

Bennett, who started his college career as a walk-on, was a Heisman Trophy finalist this past season, after leading the Bulldogs to a 15-0 record and SEC championship. He passed for 4,127 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while rushing for another 10 scores.

Bennett was named the offensive MVP in both of Georgia’s victories in the CFP, a 42-41 comeback win against Ohio State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and a 65-7 rout of TCU in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T.

Bennett, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, is considered a potential selection in April’s NFL draft. He recently won the Manning Award, which is given to the top quarterback in the FBS by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

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Sources: Harbaugh, Broncos meet but no deal

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Sources: Harbaugh, Broncos meet but no deal

Broncos owner Greg Penner and University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh met last week in Ann Arbor to discuss Denver’s head-coaching position without any deal materializing, league sources told ESPN.

Although Harbaugh two weeks ago announced he was staying at Michigan, Penner did his due diligence and still traveled to Ann Arbor to meet with the coach in person, like he’s done with seven other candidates during the Broncos’ head-coaching search.

The follow-up conversations were part of the process for both Denver — led by Penner with general manager George Paton — and Harbaugh. The face-to-face meeting came after Harbaugh’s initial video interview with Denver, after which he pulled his name out of contention and reaffirmed his commitment to Michigan.

“I love the relationships that I have at Michigan — coaches, staff, families, administration, president Santa Ono and especially the players and their families,” Harbaugh said in his statement Jan. 16. “My heart is at the University of Michigan. I once heard a wise man say, ‘Don’t try to out-happy, happy.’ Go Blue!”

The Broncos moved on as well, continuing their discussions with several other candidates. Denver has interviewed former Saints coach Sean Payton, former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell, former Stanford coach David Shaw, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and their own defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero.

Harbaugh now has met with the Vikings and Broncos in back-to-back years. While one source wondered how many more chances Harbaugh would get, another league source said “The league is likely to be interested in Jim as long as he is successfully coaching. He’s proven at every level including the NFL. That’s a hard resume to match.”

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