Sorry for the late posting. After the events of yesterday, I have been a little bit lost for words.
A day later, I still don't feel any better about the state of the St. Louis Cardinals or the state of Major League Baseball as a whole after Albert Pujols defected from the home town team for the second-richest -- and at least the second most insane contract in baseball history.
Last night I stumbled across this story by Bob Nightengale of USA Today who did the best job of anyone, in my opinion, in covering the Pujols negotiations at the winter meetings.
Basically, it excruciating lays out how close the Cardinals came to almost landing Pujols by default. But then the Angels swooped in just as momentum started and pulled the rug out from under St. Louis GM John Mozeliak.
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Even worse, it lays out what many of us suspected, that the Cardinals' jerking around of Albert Pujols after the team re-neged on its promise to extend their superstar after they gave Matt Holliday what was then the largest contract in club history pushed Pujols away. Aborted "attempts" to negotiate in the spring and this off-season only made things worse. And a couple of weeks ago Pujols was telling close friends in the baseball world that he was leaning toward leaving.
I still think Pujols is largely to blame for his divorce from the Cardinals. He put the team on the defensive with outrageous demands and his public statements that downplayed the likelihood of his coming back to the team. He did a lot of things to make the Cardinals believe that bringing him back was a longshot. And chief amongst them was acting like a spoiled baby because the team didn't tear up the deal that offered him financial security for life when he signed it -- even though the team was under no obligation at that point to give him a seven-year deal.
But I think the Cardinals bear responsibility in this situation, too. They made promises that they didn't keep. And, even if we think their behavior is reprehensible, we know that prima donna athletes need to be coddled and wooed. The Cardinals' clinical, measured approach cost them in the end. And, when you think about it, the only people who are paying for it are the fans.
Pujols got the huge contract he wanted, and the Cardinals lopped off more than $20 million in payroll while us sentimental saps who love baseball for the game will keep paying the outrageous cost of admission to watch the tattered remains of the game as we knew it.