Now before I continue writing let me offer a couple of disclaimers. 1-As almost all of you know, I was born and raised in St. Louis and 2-When you come from where I come from, meeting Stan Musial is just slightly more significant than going back in time and shaking hands with Jesus Christ. So saying that I am biased on this subject is a little bit of an understatement. I am completely, utterly, unequivocally and admittedly looking at today's developments through only one particular lens. The lens of someone who's spent almost their entire life living in what is, without any doubt, the best baseball city in the world.
Maybe this means that some of you will not be able to relate to what I am about to write. And if that's the case, then so be it. But that doesn't mean that I am bitter, angry or upset in any way, shape or form. I'm not, and I don't blame Albert for doing exactly what he did. He made what he thinks is the best decision for him and his family at this point. Good for him. Congratulations and God bless.
But that doesn't mean that he won't regret it. What we heard from Albert throughout this process was that this decision would be about business, nothing else. And that was the case. The Cardinals made an offer. The Angels made a better one. Case closed. Go ahead and put $254 million in your new checking account Pu Daddy.
And professional sports is, at its core, a business. It's more about dollars and cents than wins and losses. Even when players say over and over again that it's not about the money, it almost always is.
How else can we explain baseball's greatest player giving up near-deity status in the only town he's ever known in his professional life for free passes to Disney Land and a surplus of 40 million George Washingtons? How else can you explain Cardinals ownership allowing themselves to be outbid for a player who's only brought them 400+ homers, 2,000+ hits, 3 MVPS, 3 NL Pennants and 2 World Titles over the past decade? How else can you explain this generations Babe Ruth leaving another world champion?
Some things never change. It was about money when the Red Sox sold the Babe to the Bronx Bombers. And it's still about money today. Baseball was all business then. It's all giant corporation now.
And it has never ever been personal. That's why Willie Mays never got to run free in New York throughout the prime of his career. That's why Hank Aaron hit number 715 in Atlanta instead of his beloved Milwaukee. That's why Ken Griffey Jr. forced his way out of Seattle after 11 hall of fame seasons, and spent the rest of his career as an underperforming, oft-injured icon who was never the same.
Now it wasn't Mays' and Aaron's choice to have their teams skip town just as they became record breakers. It was Griffey's decision to be dealt away. So what the hell do they all have in common?
At the end of their careers, they all came home again. And by then they realized that it wasn't all about the money.
There's no one to blame for Albert's leaving St. Louis. Not the player, the team, or even the shady agent. It was a purely economic decision.
But should it have been? Something tells me that when Albert hits home run number 500 or gets his 3,000th hit, he's going to look into the stands and realize one thing. He's not in St. Louis anymore.
"There's no city to play baseball in like St. Louis," Pujols said after leading the Cardinals to their 11th World Series title in October. And, one day in the future, I bet Albert's going to wish that he had put his (relative lack) of money where his mouth was.
Albert Pujol's nickname is "The Machine." So, like a machine, it should come as no surprise that his decision was cold and calculating. It was 100% business, 0% personal. All logic no emotion. All A-Rod no Jeter. And that's fine. Until suddenly it won't be.
Maybe you don't or can't understand what I am saying. Maybe you don't or can't understand why I am saying it. Maybe I am just totally off and Albert and his family will ride off into the California sunset and live happily ever after.
Or maybe you'll come to Busch Stadium next spring and see that being the face of Cardinals baseball means a little more than a pile of cash; even a really, really big one. And when you do, you'll know what we in St. Louis are all now sure of.
There's only one big statue outside of the park. Only one Stan Musial. And that ain't changing anytime soon.
It's a situation where no one wins. Not the Cardinals. Not their fans. And especially not Mr. Albert Pujols.