So where were you when you found out? For this is the day that the greatest player of many of our lifetimes left St. Louis for Anaheim.
For me, the Pujols to the Angels news will always be from a simple text from my friend MJ (from Off Base Percentage/Halos Hangout). His text was simple–it seemed as if he didn’t know how to feel.
‘Um, the Angels signed Pujols’.
I don’t think anyone really knows how to feel about this right now. It’s okay to be excited, MJ. After all, you are an Angels fan. But at the same time I know this has a dirty feel to it. I’ll do my best to break down what I think happened and why all sports fans might feel a little dirty over this.
Why a solid, God-fearing man like Albert Pujols would sell out the greatest baseball city in America for $30 million dollars over the life of a 10 year deal.
We have learned in recent weeks that Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano; is a pretty seedy individual. There’s no doubt in my mind that Lozano was pressuring Pujols to take absolutely every dime he could get. It’s been in the back of my mind ever since I read this:
According to people familiar with Icon Sports Group, Lozano has been promising them the world—in the form of Albert Pujols. The grand plan, which he thought foolproof enough to allow him to leave BHSC, was a $200 million-plus contract, with Lozano taking four or five percent. When that ship comes in he’ll be able to repay his players everything they’ve allegedly lent him, with money left over.
“It all hinges on Albert,” one agent says. “He’s got this house of cards, but there’s really only one sure thing in the deck. He’s built his entire career on the back of Albert. Pujols basically saved this guy’s life twice, and he and his wife still have no idea what he’s really about.”
Lozano didn’t care about Pujols’ legacy. Not any more than Lebron James’ lackeys cared about him saving his and staying in Cleveland. These are similar situations, and it’s a shining example of what sports today has become. It’s Scrooge McDuck jumping into a big vault of gold.
At the end of the day; Pujols had to have felt pressure to take this deal. It’s probably not too different from when Jim Thome left Cleveland for Philadelphia just a little bit more. It’s sad but it’s not going to be the last time that we see this; it’s just that the player who made the move today was the tops in his craft.
I also think a big factor in this aside from money was the ability for Pujols to be able to move to the American League and DH. For all the time I spent telling you that he would never leave St. Louis, he can extend his career now. If this was a major factor; and I doubt it was, you can’t fault the guy for wanting to effectively play out the life of his contract. Going to the American League will extend his career. Playing in the warm California sun might not hurt things either.
I’m happy that I had the opportunity to see Pujols play live for over a decade. Countless times I got to see him at Great American Ball Park. And I’m happy to see him go. With this the Cincinnati Reds arguably jump back into the drivers seat in the NL Central division.
My heart does go out to St. Louis–you know, as much as it could go out to a team who just won a storybook World Series. This was awful, and front office made enough of an offer to Pujols that he should have been a Cardinal for life. St. Louis is a wonderful town for the game of baseball; and for the chosen son of that town to spurn them like he did.
St. Louis doesn’t need a Pujols type figurehead star to sell out on a Tuesday night. All they need is to be St. Louis and people are going to show up to watch this team and they will recover from this. You have two championship banner flags that will fly forever and the memories you have from those titles are not about Pujols; even if it feels that way this morning.
I always thought Pujols was that talent of my lifetime, but the guys who were on Albert’s level during my father and grandfather’s time; they didn’t do this stuff. They didn’t jump teams. They wore one uniform. It wasn’t about dollars, really. It was more about legacy. Players don’t think about legacy anymore–and if they do it’s in terms of things and monetary–not loyalty and on-field achievements.
This Pujols move shocked me, but the longer I follow sports I realize it shouldn’t have been shocking at all. This is what sports are today. They’re not about the right thing or wearing one uniform your entire career or taking less to stay with the organization who made you. It’s not about loyalty, but about guys like Dan Lozano paying back all the dirty money lenders who let him have some coin to spend it on the likely evils of the world.
The Pujols in Anaheim era begins now.