Cheap Seats

McGwire, Holliday and Pujols

While it was a bit nauseating to hear Mark McGwire finally spill his guts about his performance-enhancing drug use, I hope his admissions Monday will finally put the period on the last sentence in the chapter of baseball history about the steroid era.

McGwire raised eyebrows in 1998 when he obliterated a record that stood for 37 years by smashing 70 homers in a season. He raised eyebrows in a different way five years ago when he refused to talk about the past despite the persistent requests of Congressmen.

It was ugly. We don’t like it. But we have talked about the past. There is nothing we can do to change it. We just have to move on.

The long-term effects McGwires admissions are unknown. But a poll of News-Democrat readers suggested about 70 percent were ready to forgive him and accept him back into the Cardinals family as the team’s hitting coach.

I think the national perspective is going to be a lot more critical. I don’t think his belated admissions are going to do much to help McGwire get into the Hall of Fame anytime soon. Maybe it was his painful encounter with Congress that made the difference. But for some reason fans can forgive Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada and all of the other admitted steroid users — even though Bonds clings to his lame excuse that he didn’t know the steroids he used were steroids. Meanwhile, they have punished McGwire in print, on sports radio and on Hall of Fame ballots.

The bottom line is that’s not our problem. I just hope that this is finally the end of the steroid era. It’s time to move on.

Holliday sells tickets

While the first check to Matt Holliday will likely be a hard one for Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. to write, at least he can rest assured that the team’s $120 million investment is already starting to pay off.

According to the ticket office, the Redbirds have seen a big increase in the number of season ticket calls since Holliday committed to seven years in St. Louis.

“We’re seeing new callers who are interested in getting season tickets,” said Joe Strohm, Cardinals Vice President of ticket sales. “We’ve also been fielding calls from a number of people who were considering letting their season tickets go who now are reconsidering.”

Strohm added that season ticket account managers are hearing “a lot of positive feedback” about the Holliday signing.

Pujols, please

In the online version of View From the Cheap Seats, we’ve been kicking around some ideas the last couple of days about how to come up with a contract extension for Albert Pujols that the club can live with.

My idea: If the Cardinals can’t afford to pay Pujols $30 million a season for 10 years, how about paying him $10 million a year for 30 seasons.

Sure, Pujols isn’t going to play anywhere near that long. But he has already banked $100 million from the Cardinals, so he probably doesn’t desperately need the cash. By letting the Cardinals spread his payout over 30 years, he gets paid as the best player in baseball and he gets his wish of playing on the most competitive team possible by allowing the Birds to have several million dollars a season to spend on his supporting cast.

The Redbirds expect this to be a “lifetime” contract, which means they probably expected to pay Pujols a personal services fee similar to what Ozzie Smith got when he retired. This just jacks up what that rate would have been.

If the Cardinals want to make sure Pujols fulfills his destiny of being the next Stan Musial both on the field and after his playing days or over, this may be the best way to make it happen.