Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pujols and Baseball's Financial Madness


OK, now that I got that out of my system, I can express my profound disappointment in the decision by Albert Pujols to leave the St. Louis Cardinals - the best baseball town and team in America and one that revere(d) him - for more money in California.

He is, no longer, Sir Albert.

Certainly, every man has the right and the free will to pursue the best financial deal available for his services. And Albert's services are definitely among the most valuable in the game for going on a decade now. However, in a place like St. Louis where legends like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Ozzie Smith finished illustrious Hall of Fame careers, baseball is more than a paycheck. Loyalty is paramount in the town where baseball is religion.

Interestingly, I recently re-read Bob Costas' seminal baseball treatise Fair Ball: a Fan's Case for Baseball and it perfectly encapsulates the problems with baseball. They are pretty much all about money, greed, the bottom line, the players' union's myopic focus on salary, and the problems this creates for what was sport's purist game. That it is all about the paycheck and nothing more is disheartening, and many in St. Louis naively and foolishly believed Albert was above that. I don't wish him well - I don't wish him anything at all. His wishes have all come true - I'm just surprised his wishes are so devoid of emotion. So, we're left with the memories, and I'll simply conclude that Albert has, for me, left the game, and it wasn't really "for love of the game." Am I wrong? Am I jaded? Is this unfair? Whatever.

The statue of Stan Musial outside St. Louis' Busch Stadium is inscribed - Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight.

Stan "the Man" remains the only one.

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