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Sunday, December 11, 2011

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I’ve resisted the temptation until now but I can’t resist any longer. So here it is folks, the blog about the Albert Pujols’ move to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Before addressing this directly, however, bear with some opening personal remarks.

I am a little bit disappointed – in the Cardinal’s organization. You’ll see why if you endure to the end.

I love baseball. Yes, I wrote “love”. It’s ok because I really do think you know what I mean. I don’t love baseball more than my family or more than my church or more than my Lord Jesus Christ but I love baseball. I love the history, I love the statistics, I love the strategy, I love the competition and there’s probably more that I love about it.

I love my Cardinal’s. Yes, they are “mine”. They can be yours too. They encompass everything that I love about baseball. My home office is decked out with Cardinal’s stuff. But you know what? That’s all it is… “stuff”. It’s stuff that very special people have given to me through the years and it gets bigger and bigger every year. This year, a prized possession was added to this “stuff”. It is a large, nicely framed picture of Albert Pujols with Stan the Man along with autographed baseballs by each of them. I was absolutely wowed to receive if from my parents and my sister. But, in the end, it is “stuff”. Some of it is somewhat expensive stuff but it is stuff. You get the picture? It has temporary value in a temporary world. It brings me great joy and thank God that he allows this joy. I regularly examine my “stuff” to make sure it is not an idol. And, I smile back at AP and Stan the Man!

I’ve been asked frequently over the past few days what I think about the Pujol’s move by my husband, by my friends, and by a waitress that I don’t know (I had on Cardinal’s gear in December, that makes me an expert). So I’ll now express my opinion. I’m tired of writing “I” so I’m going to pen my thoughts as though they really mean something.

What is Albert’s legacy with St. Louis?

  • Statistics that blow the baseball mind.
  • Giving to the community beyond what would be considered necessary.
  • Memories that will not just go away.
  • Commitment on and off the field.
  • Watery eyes as we watch him dance with children with Down’s syndrome, give his bat from hit #400 to a child with brain cancer (no media around, he didn’t tell anyone – the kid’s parents leak it), sweat on his brow as he represents our community in the Dominican Republic and many other acts of charity.

Did the St. Louis Cardinal’s make Albert, Albert?

The Cardinals did not "make" Pujols. It's hardly called "getting a chance" when you picked around 400th. Colby Rasmus "got a chance". Albert worked his butt off and got into the line up and then just blew us all away. The Cardinal’s aren’t to be totally dismissed in this equation but you can be sure, they would have dropped him like a hot potato if he had not produced from the beginning – and rightly so, it’s the way the game works.

Does Albert have his faults?

  • Of course he does. If he didn’t, he would be God and he certainly isn’t. He was often view as very cold and impersonal to the fans. Was that concentration on the task at hand or a character flaw? Opinions will be varied forever (this one is not so good).
  • It would be na├»ve at best to think that money was not issue. Money played its role but not necessarily in the form of greed but more likely in the form of pride. The best at what he does wanted to be paid the best. Is this reason to throw stones at him? Probably not. Is this much different from most people? Probably not. Does this make it 100% right? Probably not.

What proof is there that it was not all about the money?

The Marlins have been reported to offer him more than $274 million. That’s more than $254 million. That just shy of the most ever offered to any MLB player. But the Marlins would not give him a no-trade clause.

What was so bad about the Cardinal’s offer?

  • If you are the average above average player, nothing. Albert is not the average above average player. He has brought millions more to the Cardinals than the $114 million he has been paid over the past 11 years. On top of that, he has brought millions to the St. Louis area. How many people have come to this area and spent money at restaurants, hotels, and other entertainment venues because they wanted to see Albert Pujols play at Busch Stadium?
  • Pujols made it clear that he wanted to be a Cardinal for life (my friend, Chad, has a good blog on this) in the likeness of Stan Musial. Did he lie? No, but it became apparent that the Cardinals were not willing to embrace him for life. The Cardinals would not lay it out on the line before the 2011 season. They wanted to hold out and see what would happen on the open market. Perhaps this was a good business decision. That remains to be seen.
  • Pujols also made it clear that he never again wanted to negotiate. This is not an unreasonable request from the best player in the business but it required a ten year commitment – a commitment that the Cardinal’s refused to make. Is it possible that he really wanted to be a Cardinal for life but desired a long term contract even more? Absolutely. If you are in a position to make that demand, and he was, wouldn’t you want that stability for your family?
  • Reports indicate that there was no passion or charm from the Cardinal’s ownership. Is it possible that they were looking for an out without it appearing they had turned down the great Albert Pujols?
  • In the end, what was so bad about the Cardinal’s offer was that it was half-hearted even if it was with an open-pocketbook.
  • A good couple of good articles on this: STL Today - Burwell and STL Today - Strauss

Is Albert worth $254 million? Yes and no.

  • “No one is worth $254 million.” How many times have you heard that in the last week? It is outrageous. Some have even vowed to quit following baseball. But, are the same people going to quit watching movies too? Leonardo DeCaprio made $77 million from May 2010 to May 2011. At least 7 CEO’s made more than Pujol’s will make. You’ll need to boycott Disney, DirectTV, Comcast, Black and Decker, and Ford, and many others along the way. Get the picture? It’s everywhere. That doesn’t make it right but it is what it is. Be careful before quitting on this one industry.
  • There is something wrong in a world where military personnel, police, firefighters, and many teachers, pastors, missionaries, and charity workers do not get paid even a fraction of what a baseball player or actor makes. Why is this? Basic economics – demand and supply. Americans demand it and the entertainment world supplies it. What a demented system yet a free market is the best system in the world. So, with all its faults, we welcome it and one of its faults plays out in baseball.
  • What this ends up meaning is that relatively speaking, Pujols is worth $254 million dollars. Just like the best execs get wooed with the best money, so do the best athletes. You don’t have to like.
  • Whether or not the Angels reap their return on investment remains to be seen but consider this
  1. Baseball number crunchers can show you that even if he tapers off every year, he’ll bring in the bucks to cover his first 5 years based upon his performance.
  2. Pujol may only have 5 or so really good years left. No one really knows. But, if he doesn't get injured, he will make a run for some tremendous records and accomplishments. Many of those will come in the latter years. So, even when he's not putting up the prime year numbers, he'll be going for big numbers and bringing in the fans from all over for that. In the long run, barring injury, the Angels will probably get their money's worth... and the Cards could have.

Does this move make Pujols any less of a Christian? (going back to using “I” on this one)

  • If it does, then we’re all hell-bound. Whether your decision or his decision is good or bad, we live and die by grace.
  • It most definitely would have been an incredible statement to a worldly world for him to have been wronged in the contract and walked away with less money (see Scott Weldon’s blog on this) but from all indication he is a brother and until proven differently, I will trust that he sought the Lord and acted accordingly.
  • The question has been raised as to whether or not he could have really prayed about something that happened so quickly. Several times in my life I have prayed through a decision and been led to look for certain conditions to surround the options. Could this be the case with the Pujols family? I think it is very possible. Sometimes we just know something is what we are to do.

I’ll miss Albert even though he doesn’t know me from Eve. I was already considering a west coast baseball park anniversary and this helps a lot in making up my mind. (And yes, I will allow Scott Lee to go too!) I hope Albert Pujols has success every time he plays unless it’s against the Cardinals (thinking World Series here). He’s my brother in Christ (from all I can tell) and I’ll hope for the best in his life which means I hope and pray that he glorifies God in all that he does – even if it is in L.A.