Cheap Seats

Sometimes it's about more than what happens on the field

I really don't get the hold up in the Cardinals "efforts" to re-sign Albert Pujols.

Inking the best player in baseball to a contract extension is the biggest no-brainer in baseball. The question isn't whether the Redbirds can afford Pujols. It's only if they can afford to let him go.

There is really no question about whether Pujols will make the Cardinals a better team than spending the money it would take to sign him on other players. Sure, I think having the best player in baseball on the roster equates to a better team. I think having the hardest worker off the field in your clubhouse helps make your entire team better prepared. But, when you get down to the business of baseball, is there any way the Cardinals could draw more fans -- and enhance their revenue stream -- than to bring Pujols back?

We fans think in terms of championships when we put imaginary teams together on sheets of notebook paper. But let's not forget that for the operators of the teams in the real world that baseball is a business. Ultimately, they care less about wins and losses than they do about putting hind ends in the seats. If they won 10 championships in a row and no one came to see it, do we really think an owner would be happier than if they finished fourth 10 years in a row but still drew 3 million fans per season?

Take on look at the stands during a Cardinals game and, easily, 75 percent of the jerseys and tee shirts you'll see have "Pujols 5" on them. I'm willing to bet if the Birds don't keep Albert around that ticket sales will go down 20 percent. No offense to Matt Holliday, who is a fine player, but he isn't a tenth of the drawing card that Pujols is. If any player in the majors justifies his outlandish salary, it's Albert. He belongs to St. Louis after 10 years in red.

Pujols is a special player like Stan Musial, Ted Williams or Joe Dimaggio who deserves to play for one team -- and the same fans -- for his entire career.

Cardinals fans don't treat players like mercenaries and forget their names after a couple of seasons. So, don't tell me about statistics or probabilites. The fans of St. Louis want Albert Pujols to remain part of their family. So make it happen.