He appeared to be slowly falling off of the face of the earth, but the Albert Pujols who tortured Cubs fans for years is seemingly returning to form.

He joined quite an exclusive club recently, which was the big headline of the week, but there was plenty more to talk about during the 4th week of the MLB season.

Pujols Reaches A Historic Milestone

When Albert Pujols took Washington Nationals pitcher Taylor Jordan deep this past Wednesday, it was not only his league-leading 8th home run of the year, it also happened to be the 500th of his career.

This feat makes him the 26th man in big league history to reach that plateau, and the last since 2009, when Gary Sheffield also hit his 500th in April. While it was a huge achievement, it actually seemed to go a bit under the radar in terms of the coverage that it received from the media.

When most players are approaching such a large milestone, especially a player like Pujols, who might be the best right-handed hitter of all time, the media will flock to them for the games leading up to the home run, and it will be a celebrated moment whenever he hits it. That wasn’t exactly the case here, as there only appeared to be a brief highlight of it the following day.

This accomplishment is a bright spot on what has been a turnaround season for Pujols this year, as he’s currently leading the league in home runs and is in the top 5 in runs batted in. If he can keep this up, he might be able to solidify that spot as the best right-handed hitter of all-time. If he isn’t, who is, in your opinion?

Pine Tar Issue Takes Center Stage

Yet again, an out-of-the-ordinary issue in a Red Sox/Yankees series has caused quite a bit of debate, and also created more than a few headlines. First, it was a controversial play at second base that replay should have easily overturned but didn’t, and now it’s Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda’s use of pine tar, or more specifically his inability to hide it.

It was in the second inning of the game when Red Sox manager John Farrell called the umpires out to go check on Pineda, who had been accused of using pine tar in the past. Not surprisingly, they found a huge glob of it on his neck and he was thrown out, and subsequently suspended for 10 games.

This brought many current and former players to talk openly about the issue and state how freely pine tar is used even though it’s technically a banned substance. The main issue that they had with Pineda’s incident wasn’t the pine tar, but just his carelessness in attempting to conceal it.

I personally don’t have a problem with pitchers trying to get a better grip on the ball, as I know from personal experience that it can be tough, especially in the cold. The suggestion that I saw by many was that the real problem is the baseballs themselves. Before games, there is a long process that involves an equipment manager having to roll the balls around in mud so that they’re ready for use. If they could design a baseball that is ready to go out of the box, than this doctoring may not be an issue again.

Benches Clear In Pittsburgh

Carlos Gomez was at the center of another benches-clearing brawl this week, though I’m not sure if he’s totally at fault in this one. Given his track record with things like this, however, it seems that many were quick to point the finger at him, whether that’s deserved or not.

Gomez came up in the third-inning against Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and roped a fly ball to center field. He evidently thought the ball was going out of the park, as he didn’t run right away out of the batter’s box. He eventually started running once he saw that it was going to hit the wall, and he ended up on third with a triple.

Apparently, Cole was not happy with his “showboating” out of the box, and he came over and minced words with Gomez. With that, Gomez became irate and made his way towards Cole, which eventually caused the benches to clear and a few punches to be thrown.

For his actions, Gomez was suspended for 3 games, but surprisingly Cole didn’t get reprimanded at all. While I support many of the “unspoken rules” of baseball, I feel like Cole was out of line here, too. If you don’t want a guy to stand in the batter’s box and watch the ball he hit, you should probably prevent him from hitting the ball. Do you think Cole should have been disciplined for his actions? What are some other “unspoken rules” that you find objectionable?

This Week’s MVP: Andrew McCutchen (.385/.500/.769, 3 HR, 4 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 1.15 ERA, 20 K)

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Brian Rzeppa is an avid follower of the Cubs, and of Major League Baseball in general. You can find his basketball-related work at Sheridan Hoops, and you can follow him on Twitter @brianrzeppa.