Albert Pujols High Fives Nelly After Smashing ... 685th Career HR!!

Albert Pujols went deep last night -- inching him closer to A-Rod on the all-time HR leader list -- and fans at Busch Stadium went crazy, including Nelly, who got a high five from the baseball legend after he crossed home plate!

Pujols -- who rejoined the Cards after spending 10 seasons away from the team -- smashed the 685th homerun of his storied career ... and celebrated the monster shot with the St. Louis icon on his way back to the dugout.

Of course, Nelly's a huge deal in St. Louie ... and so is Albert. Even though the hip-hop star has seen Pujols belt numerous dingers over his 22-year career, you can tell Nelly was pumped!

At age 42, Pujols -- a 3x MVP and 6x Silver Slugger -- can still put a charge in one and send it into the seats ... as demonstrated by how quickly he turned around a 94 mph pitch from Dodgers pitcher Mitch White.

Pujols announced in spring training that this would be his farewell year ... saying he planned to retire at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

But, don't fret too much Cards fans ... Albert's going out with a bang. On Tuesday, Albert confirmed he was participating in this year's Home Run Derby contest in L.A.!

"The rumors are true. I’m back for one more Home Run Derby. See you in Hollywood!"

Chris Rock Let's Play Ball ... With Lake Bell

6/13/22
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME
TMZ.com

Chris Rock is in good company these days, taking in a baseball game with Lake Bell.

The comedian and actress were in a box together Monday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, watching a Cardinals game. They were spotted by eagle-eyed fans, who got them on camera together at different points in the evening ... including in this video, obtained by TMZ.

No signs of PDA, but they were definitely sitting together ... and seemed interested in maintaining a relatively low profile. We're told Chris did an on-camera interview at one point, and LB stepped away so she wouldn't be seen in the shot.

Chris has been performing comedy shows there lately, and it seems Lake is along for the ride. They're both single, and relatively fresh off of long-term marriages in recent years.

3/27/22
TAKIN' NO DISRESPECT
ABC

It's been about 3 months since CR got smacked across the face by Will Smith, and by all accounts ... he's doing just fine. Not only has he continued to work, but he now seems to have a new lady friend (maybe).

Happier times are on the horizon, it seems.

Mets' Pete Alonso Thrown To Ground In Wild Brawl ... With St. Louis Cardinals

Chaotic scene during the Mets vs. Cardinals game in St. Louis on Wednesday ... a wild brawl broke out during the middle of the game -- and NY superstar Pete Alonso was thrown to the ground by a Cards pitcher and coach.

The crazy moment went down in the bottom of the 8th inning at Busch Stadium ... after St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado was pissed following a pitch that nearly beaned him.

Arenado turned his body to avoid being hit by the Yoan López heater ... then nodded and motioned to Lopez as if to say "come get some."

The catcher and umpire tried to restore peace, but it was too late -- because both benches cleared in order to restrain Arenado from going after Lopez.

The two teams collided near home plate ... and, at one point, Alonso was dragged to the ground by Cardinals pitcher Génesis Cabrera and coach Stubby Clapp.

Thankfully, the melee was quickly broken up ... and Alonso and no one else was injured in the fracas.

But, afterward, Pete was pissed ... and told reporters that if he really wanted to, he could have "put someone in the hospital."

"I easily could," the Mets first baseman said, "but I was just out there trying to protect my guys."

Of course, the bad blood had been boiling between the two teams for a while ... especially after Tuesday night's game, when Alonso got drilled in the helmet by pitcher Kodi Whitley.

In fact, beanball drama happened earlier in Wednesday's game, when J.D. Davis was hit in the foot by a pitch from Cabrera in the top of the eighth inning.

In the end, the Cards defeated the Mets, 10-5 ... but with both teams slated to play each other a bunch more times -- it's clear the drama might be far from over between these two.

Dodgers' Max Scherzer Flip-Flops And Shorts For Elimination Game ... What Nerves?!?

Think Max Scherzer is nervous about the Dodgers' Wild Card game?

Think again ... 'cause the L.A. starter cruised to the stadium Wednesday in flip-flops and shorts -- showin' he's absolutely CHILLIN' before the win-or-go-home matchup with the Cardinals!!

The Dodgers posted a glimpse of Scherzer's pregame 'fit just hours before he's set to take the mound in L.A.'s biggest game of the season ... revealing the pitcher ditched a suit and tie and instead rocked his comfiest attire to the ballpark.

Of course, pregame looks don't always offer accurate glimpses into the future ... but it's clear as day, Scherzer is feelin' gooooood before his big start.

That, obviously, ain't the best news for St. Louis fans ... because Scherzer has already been lights out since being traded to the Dodgers from the Nationals over the summer.

In 11 starts for L.A., Mad Max has posted a 7-0 record with a 1.98 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched.

Game starts in just a couple hours ... good luck dealing with that slider tonight, Cardinals.

MLB Ump Junior Valentine Bloodied After Being Drilled In Face ... By Errant Throw

MLB umpire Junior Valentine was rocked in the face by a wayward throw Monday night ... and the ball hit him so hard, he crumpled to the ground in pain and began bleeding from his cheek.

The bizarre scene all went down in the Cardinals' game against the Mets in New York ... right after Kevin Pillar hit a ground ball to St. Louis infielder Edmundo Sosa.

As the shortstop ranged to his left and spun to try to throw out Pillar ... the ball got away from his intended target -- and ended up smacking Valentine in the face.

You can see in the footage of the play ... Valentine was visibly shaken up -- and needed to be tended to by trainers.

Somehow, though, the dude wiped away the blood and stayed in the game.

Afterward, Valentine's crew chief, Jerry Meals, said in a statement Valentine was doing fine despite the scary scene.

"He's been checked out and has no broken bones," Meals said. "He was incredibly alert from the get-go. The blood seemed to stop fairly quickly, thankfully, and he was adamant that he was fine."

Cardinals star pitcher Adam Wainwright, who was on the mound during the play, added, "I felt really bad for him. What a stud to stay in the game."

Shohei Ohtani Changing Baseball On A Global Scale ... Says Rick Ankiel

HE'S GOT IT ALL
TMZSports.com

Shohei Ohtani's monster 2021 season ain't just bringing awareness to MLB nationally ... the Angels superstar is opening eyes across the GLOBE -- so says Rick Ankiel.

The former St. Louis Cardinals star -- who was the last MLB player before Ohtani to have huge success as both a hitter and pitcher -- broke it all down for TMZ Sports this week ... explaining Shohei is just that electric.

"Look, there’s nothing the guy can’t do on a baseball field," said Ankiel, who Ohtani just passed on the all-time MLB home run leaderboard.

"Watching what he’s doing, it definitely is must-watch TV ... every time I see it, I stop."

Ankiel says because of Ohtani's ties to Japan ... the incredible year he's having is bringing eyeballs to the sport that may have never been brought otherwise.

"I think you’re going to have a lot of kids who are seeing him maybe for the first time on the All-Star Game, looking up to that and going out in the backyard and trying to hit like Ohtani, and pitch like Ohtani and try to be that growing up," Ankiel said.

"I think it’s fantastic."

Ohtani has a ridiculous 32 home runs already this season with a stellar .279 batting average ... and he's the clear-cut favorite for AL MVP at the moment.

Oh, and by the way, he also has a 3.49 ERA and a 4-1 record as a pitcher.

Yeah, Ankiel ain't lying ... dude is REALLY good at baseball!!

Bill Murray Leads 'Take Me Out' To Packed Wrigley First Full-Capacity Game Since COVID-19

FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK
Chicago Cubs

This is a beautiful, beautiful sight.

The Chicago Cubs welcomed a FULL-CAPACITY crowd to Wrigley Field Friday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started ... and none other than Bill Murray was present to give a majestic rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game!!!"

Of course, it's tradition for the Cubbies to welcome their biggest supporters to help serenade the crowd during the 7th-inning stretch ... so the team brought out its most diehard fan for the first game back with a full stadium.

"This is what it feels like to be 100%," Murray yelled to the crowd before the big moment. "And, we're gonna be louder from right now until the last out in the top of the 9th inning, understood?"

Remember -- the Cubs haven't hosted a full stadium since 2019 ... so the place was ROCKING during their game against hated rival St. Louis.

"Let's scare the hell outta these Cardinals, let's scare them!!" Murray added.

The whole crowd singing along with the Chicago native was a powerful moment ... and Murray made sure to make the last note hold out as long as possible.

The video is pretty damn emotional considering what sports fans have been through in the past year ... and hopefully, there's more content like this moving forward.

As for the game, the Cubbies beat the Cards, 8-5 ... and you gotta imagine the fans helped bring home the big win!!!

Joey Votto Rips St. Louis Fans 'S***-Talking Motherf***ers'

Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto had some really kind words for the St. Louis Cardinals fan base on Tuesday ... and by "kind," we mean the exact opposite.

The 37-year-old first baseman kept it a buck when speaking about the Reds' 4-game road sweep of the Cards earlier this week ... saying it felt REALLY good to get revenge after STL swept Cincy earlier this season.

"We had some s***-talking mother f***ers in St. Louis after their first series sweep," Votto said Tuesday. "It’s kinda nice to go on the road at their road ballpark and let ’em have it."

"We had some people sweeping brooms and s*** like that while we were leaving. So, how’d you like that? How’d you like that?"

DAYUM, JOEY!!! Tell us how you REALLY feel!!!

Now, Votto said all this with a smile on his face ... but the hatred between the NL Central rivals is real -- remember, benches cleared when Yadier Molina shoved Nick Castellanos for getting all up in pitcher Jake Woodford's face back in April.

The Reds will host the Cards again next month ... and it's safe to say there will be even more drama.

Popcorn -- get it ready.

Bryce Harper Drilled In Face By 97 MPH Fastball ... But MLB Star Somehow 'All Good'

Bryce Harper is lucky to have avoided complete disaster Wednesday ... the MLB star was drilled in the nose by a 97 MPH pitch, but thankfully, he says he's somehow "all good."

The Phillies outfielder was up to bat in the 6th inning of Philadelphia's tilt with the St. Louis Cardinals ... when Génesis Cabrera's pitch got away from him and smashed BH right in the face.

The clip is horrifying ... the fastball appeared to catch Harper right between the eyes -- and Bryce immediately left the game for the training room.

Of course, with players like Giancarlo Stanton having suffered SEVERE damage from being hit with pitches in the face in the past ... many feared the worst for Harper.

But, fortunately, Harper said in a video after the game he passed all tests and expects to recover in no time.

"MY FACE IS STILL THERE"
@bryceharper3 / Instagram

"Everything feels good," Bryce said, showing off nothing more than minor swelling on his nose. "Everything came back good -- CT [scan], all that kind of stuff."

"So, face is still there. So, we're all good. See you guys soon!"

As for Cabrera -- who also hit Didi Gregorious in the back in the at-bat following Harper's -- he felt so badly about the night, he apologized after the game.

"I really wish him the best," Cabrera said of Harper. "I hope he has a speedy recovery, in whatever it is that happened, and that he'll be able to return to baseball activities."

"The game got away from me at that point. I'm really sorry for everything that happened today. None of it was intentional. And again, I'm sorry for everything."

By the way ... the Phils went on to win the game, 5-3, despite the loss of Harper. The two teams will play again Thursday morning.

MLB's Kolten Wong Takes At-Bat In Tears ... After Getting Standing Ovation In STL Return

Touching moment in the MLB on Thursday ... Kolten Wong got a standing ovation in his return to St. Louis -- and he was so emotional about it, he had to take his ensuing at-bat in tears.

It all went down in the 1st inning of the Brewers' tilt with the Cards ... when Wong -- who played in STL from 2013 through 2020 -- was set to take his first AB as an opposing player at Busch Stadium.

But, as soon as his name was announced over the PA system ... fans roared so loudly for the Cards' former second baseman, the game was paused for several seconds.

Even Wong's ex-teammates, pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina, took a few bows to pay their respects to the 30-year-old.

And, all of love clearly hit Wong HARD ... 'cause he spent his entire ensuing at-bat crying.

Fortunately for Wong, Wainwright didn't throw him a single strike on four pitches ... and he was able to head down to first base pretty quickly to re-collect himself.

Props to STL for the cool move ... #classy!

St. Louis Cardinals Legend Lou Brock Dead at 81 ... Battling Multiple Illnesses

St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Lou Brock has died ... this according to the St. Louis-Post Dispatch.

Reporter Rick Hummel says Brock passed away Sunday afternoon, adding he was battling multiple medical conditions near the end of his life. The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear.

Brock was a living legend in Missouri, as he's best known as one of the greatest Cardinals players ever who helped lead the franchise to a World Series title in 1964 ... the same year he was traded to the team from the Chicago Cubs. He was a major factor to them winning the fall classic again in 1967, racking up a then-historic number of hits and stolen bases.

Speaking of the latter, Lou will perhaps be best remembered for exactly that ... the dude could steal anything out on the diamond. The guy leads the National League as the all-time greatest base stealer (ever) with a whopping 938 stolen bases through his 19-year career.

There are other milestones he hit along the way, but just to sum up his achievements ... the guy was a 6-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champ, had over 3,000 hits to his name and was a first-ballot HOF inductee. He goes down in the books as one of the greats.

He's survived by his wife, Jacqueline, and his son, Lou Jr. Brock was 81.

RIP

MLB's Yadier Molina Tests Positive For COVID-19 ... Vows To Return ASAP

MLB star Yadier Molina says he's one of several St. Louis Cardinals dealing with coronavirus ... announcing Tuesday he tested positive even after following all the proper protocols.

The 38-year-old -- who some expect to be a lock for baseball's Hall of Fame -- said in a statement in Spanish on social media he's disappointed to have contracted the virus.

But, the catcher added he's doing everything possible to return to the team ASAP.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

"As I recover," Yadi said, "I request that my privacy and that of my family be respected during my absence from the team."

The Cards said in a statement in addition to Yadi ... infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa, and Rangel Ravelo, and pitchers Junior Fernández and Kodi Whitley have also agreed to publicly come forward with their positive diagnosis.

As we previously reported, the Cardinals are currently dealing with at least 13 cases of coronavirus on their team ... with GM John Mozeliak saying some have experienced symptoms like "headaches, coughs, sniffles, and low-grade fevers."

The Cards have had several games postponed due to the outbreak ... with their series against the Detroit Tigers this week already being moved.

The Miami Marlins, meanwhile, are experiencing similar issues ... having missed most of the start of the MLB's rebooted year with coronavirus cases of their own.

STL Manager Mike Shildt F-Bomb Speech After Beating Braves! 'No One F**ks With Us, Ever!'

WE'RE GONNA KICK THEIR F***ING ASS

"No one f*cks with us, ever!"

That's St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt GOING OFF in a spectacular f-bomb-laced locker room speech after his team upset the Braves -- and it's AWESOME!!

"Now, I don't give a f**k who we play. We're gonna f**k them up!"

Atlanta and St. Louis had a chippy NLDS ... and after the Redbirds closed it out 13-1 in Game 5 Wednesday -- Shildt broke out all the cuss words!

"They started some s**t. We finished the s**t," Shildt says in the vid captured by St. Louis outfielder Randy Arozarena. "And, that's how we roll."

Arozarena apologized for posting the footage because it was supposed to be a private moment, but it was still awesome to watch.

"We're gonna take it right to them the whole f**king way. We're gonna kick their f**king ass!"

By the way, "they" is now the Washington Nationals. The two squads are set to face off in the NLCS, a best of 7 series.

As for Shildt, he's known for being a super nice and calm dude -- remember how awesome he was to TMZ Sports when we got him out in NYC earlier this year???

GREAT TEAM, GREAT STORY
TMZSports.com

But, clearly, he's got a fiery side ... 'cause his locker room speech was EPIC!!!

As for why he was so jacked up ... St. Louis was pissed off at Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. all series long for his antics at the dish (there were bat flipping and base-running dancing).

So, even in a blowout in the series finale ... the Cards plunked him with a fastball -- and clearly they weren't sorry about it.

MLB's Matt Carpenter Pujols Won't Be Booed In STL Return ... He's A Hero

A HERO'S WELCOME
TMZSports.com

In St. Louis and thinking of booing Albert Pujols in his return to Busch Stadium this week??

Don't do it ... so says Cardinals star Matt Carpenter, who tells TMZ Sports Pujols deserves to be treated like a king in his first game back in STL.

"Like a hero coming back to town," Carpenter says.

Of course, The Machine famously put together a Hall of Fame career for the Cards from 2001 to 2011 ... but he didn't leave for the Angels on the best of terms following the '11 season.

Some have thought he might be welcomed with a bunch of boos because of that when he comes to town with the Halos this week ... but Carpenter says fans should stand up and cheer nonetheless.

"That guy had arguably one of the 10 best seasons that have ever been played in St. Louis," Matt says.

First pitch Friday is at 5:15 PM PT ... Pujols is expected to step into the batter's box in either the first or second innings.

#CantWait

Cardinals' Mike Shildt Blues' Stanley Cup Magic ... It's Inspired Us!!!

GREAT TEAM, GREAT STORY
TMZSports.com

The St. Louis Blues' Stanley Cup run will HELP the city's baseball team ... so says Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, who tells TMZ Sports the hockey champs have "inspired" his guys!!!

Of course, nobody gave the Blues a chance to win Lord Stanley back when the season began ... but they improbably made their way through the league to hoist the trophy Wednesday.

When we got Shildt out in NYC just a couple days later ... he told us the Blues' season is motivating as hell -- and the Cardinals are definitely taking notice!!!

"We're always inspired by great stories," Schildt says ... "And the Blues are a great story."

Schildt added, "[The Blues] had heart and grit and kind of represent the city of St. Louis."

The extra motivation is good news for the Redbirds ... they could use it -- they're just a few games out of 1st place in the NL Central!!

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