If you missed Bartolo Colon and Albert Pujols’ exchange last night, you missed a dandy. In Major League Baseball, we’re used to headlines about different kinds of interactions that take place between hitters and pitchers, the kind of interaction that Carlos Quentin and Zack Grienke have. It’s a funny thing, because baseball players generally seem to get along better than most athletes: frequent are the chats that occur between fellow countrymen on opposing teams — at the plate between catcher and hitter, or in the infield between fielder and base runner. These interactions rarely make the headlines, because they are not usually significant, or even noticeable. It was, then, a breath of fresh air to fire up old mlb.com (while I was supposed to be working) and come across this moment from last night’s Angels-A’s game:

The Dominicans share a laugh about something, and Pujols untucks Colon’s jersey, a favorite playful maneuver for all boys, ages 11 and under. What might they have been talking about, and why did Pujols untuck his jersey? I’m willing to propose four possibilities for what was going on in this private moment, gone public.

1. Pujols was amused by Bartolo Colon’s fat belly.

Let’s not rule out the possibility that Albert Pujols was simply amazed at how much weight Colon has managed to put on, and was reaching out to see if Colon was hiding some bags of Cheetos under his jersey.

2. Chris Young’s Slow-Motion Home-Run Robbery. 

Oh Chris Young, what a year you are having! Not only are you below the Mendoza Line, but now you have the ultimate feather in your cap: the easiest, most awkward home run robbery ever committed. I watched this replay a lot, and have decided that the ball probably wouldn’t have cleared the wall, but that it was too close to be conclusive. Therefore, he might still be robbing a home run, and thus, we have to call it a robbing of a home run, no? Let’s put it this way: I’ve seen far more dubious plays dubbed a “home run robbing”.

So it’s possible Pujols was tugging at Colon’s jersey as if to say, “tell me you saw that, bro. Can you believe he’s getting 8.5 million dollars this year and you’re getting 3?!”.

Which, of course, brings us to our next possibility:

3. Colon is ribbing Pujols for his serious loss in pop, causing Pujols to fight back with the ol’ shirt-untucking-move. 

Colon: “Albert, that’s some serious 240-million dollar-warning-track-power.”

Pujols: “Shut up, fat guy.” (Untucks Colon’s shirt).

4. Pujols is checking for syringes hidden in Colon’s stomach area. 

Bartolo Colon is having one of the most unexpectedly successful season of pitching in the history of mankind. Of course, Colon might not be a part of mankind, but a genetically modified super-freak who is programmed to throw 90 mph fastballs over the black.

Consider, for a moment, that during last night’s game Colon threw his third shutout of the year, tying him with Justin Masterson for first in the American League. In his last 13 starts he is 9-1 with a 1.62 ERA. Then consider that Colon is 40 years old and 340 pounds (give or take). This guy can’t even play the “I’m in-shape and that’s why I’m pitching my best at age 40″-card, because he is the opposite of in-shape. He is fat.

Of course, when you picture a guy who uses steroids, you probably don’t picture a guy who reinvents himself as a finesse pitcher, relentlessly pounding the strike zone with two-seam fastballs that are going sort-of-fast relative to his major league counterparts. Then again, Neifi Perez — he of the .375 career slugging percentage — was suspended twice for using steroids, and nobody knows why that was happening.

Colon has also been suspended for steroids. It was last year, in fact. Frankly, I couldn’t care less. I don’t care who was using steroids, because I assume a lot of baseball players were, some still are, and we will probably never know the difference. Furthermore, most players use one form of steroid or another — ever heard of a cortisone shot? — and to suggest that we, as fans, know anything about what they do and how they effect players’ overall performance, is ridiculous.

But, perhaps Pujols was looking through Colon’s shirt for some of whatever is reviving Colon’s career, something that would help him get that extra foot or two he needed to drill his 17th homer of the season.

 

Maybe, it’s none of those things. Maybe, Pujols and Colon were forgetting all about steroids, contracts, and the spectators who associate them with both. Maybe, they were just two guys, lost in the moment, playing baseball, and acting like children.

That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?