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Manning shows Pujols who's El Hombre

While there is never a perfect break up, I'm pretty sure the Colts and Peyton Manning came about as close as anyone could possibly get.

And I wonder if Albert Pujols could have avoided a lot of the venom he's received from jilted Cardinals fans had he and the team handled his defection to Anaheim in the same way.

As I have said before, I think the Cardinals decided a long time ago that it was probably in their best interests to let Pujols walk. And I think they handled their "negotiations" with the superstar accordingly, making offers he was almost certain not to take and otherwise making the process as tedious and unappealing as possible.

So, if the club really felt that it couldn't afford Pujols, why not just come out and say it? Why did someone have to be the bad guy?

I'm still upset with Pujols because I think the reason he eventually had to walk out the door was the hardline stance he took in negotiations. He was willing to let the fans who gave him a wonderful life and riches beyond his wildest dreams because of their unwavering support suffer as hostages in a battle over making a few million more when he's already got enough money for 100 lifetimes. In short, he put the Cardinals in a position where they had to make a hard decision to let him go because it was pretty clear that Albert didn't care if he bankrupted the franchise as long as he got the contract he wanted.

The only way the Cardinals were going to keep Albert was if he was dedicated to staying. And he obviously wasn't. And that's a shame not only for the fans, but in principle. We were all supposed to feel bad for Albert because he only made a measly $16 million when other guys were getting $25 million a year. But let's not forget that the Cardinals gave albert a contract for a guaranteed $100 million when they didn't have to.

Remember Pujols' iffy elbow? What if the Cardinals would have let Pujols go to arbitration every year and sometime in the middle that partially torn ligament snapped? How many tens of millions could he have lost?

Anyway, I know I would have felt a whole lot better about the Pujols situation if he sat there like Manning -- next to the owners -- and thanked the organization and its fans for all they gave him. If he would have said he'd always be a Cardinal in his heart and made some sort of sentimental statement of how St. Louis would always be his home. Instead, he pointed fingers, accused the Cardinals brass of being dishonest and stuck to his guns that it wasn't all about the money.

It obviously wasn't really about having the opportunity to win championships when Albert was willing to hamstring the Redbirds with his albatross of a contract for the next decade.

I know as a Cardinals fan that I wanted to feel like there was someone out there -- one of the greatest players in the history of his game -- who was different. Someone who was loyal and who was grateful and humble. Someone who actually thought of the fans as more than a meal ticket. And I guess now I do feel that way. But that guy isn't Pujols. He's Manning.