posted on April 15, 2011 06:00
The absolute, dumbest argument when it comes to professional sports starts something like this: "If Team X signs Player X to that contract, it's going to kill the payroll..."
I PROMISE you that Team X is going to jack ticket prices, concessions, beer, merchandise and any other thing they've got control over regardless of the contracts they've entered into with players. The only difference to you, Joe Fan, is how much MORE money Team X is going to make.
That's it. That's the difference.
Yet fucksticks call into radio shows all the time worried about the Cardinals payroll like they've got a fiduciary responsibility bestowed on them by the team itself. I don't always remember this being the case growing up- but now that sports has become even bigger business than it was, it's an insane, yet pervasive, riff .
So when people decided to get into a lather about Albert Pujols' reported demands for $300 million in payment for 10 years of playing, I had the same reaction as when the Cardinals signed Matt Holliday for $120 million... fine.
As in fine, pay those guys whatever the hell they want. Fine, I want to see Holliday and Pujols hitting for the lineup I root for. Their quality of life and size of their contracts may matter to them (it probably does), but not to me. Fine; doesn't affect me in the least.
When Pujols decided to cease negotiations when he reported to spring training, it shook me. The reality of Pujols becoming a free agent became a reality, and the possibility of having to watch #5 come back to St. Louis as a visitor was tangible.
I went so far as to spin it forward to Pujols playing for the Cubs and vowing to not watch a single game in 2012 if that happens.
Now it's two weeks into 2011, and I can't quite put my finger on it, but I don't think I feel as strongly about signing Pujols as I did before.
Since 2005, the Cardinals haven't been all that great. Yes, they won the World Series in 2006, but they were far from the best team. Since then they only made the playoffs once and got walloped. It's hard to believe, but the Cardinals have been basically a 'meh' team for six years now.
Pujols has been great. But that individual greatness hasn't translated into team greatness.
Further, as his rocky start has continued to drag on, the haters are coming out. They were waiting for some weakness, and they've got something to finally hold on to.
So a guy who may not be as good as he once was that doesn't seem to make the team all that great wants to stick around for a long time? Maybe the Cardinals don't sign the guy after all?
Again- the money shouldn't be a factor in your decision on this. You're not Bill DeWitt. If Pujols leaves, tickets will not go down.
That being said, do we want to watch a guy we've idolized for a decade become the brunt of angst and anger at the overall lack of success for the team? Would three players at 10m per be a better allocation of $30 million?
I don't know.
What I do know is that a month ago I was dead set on doing whatever it took to sign Pujols. But now I'm thinking that just might not be the best way to build the Cardinals into a serious perennial World Series contender. Then again, he is the greatest player I've ever seen.
Pujols is making this season difficult on multiple levels. He always has been good at going above and beyond.
@athooks is on Twitter and CardsDiapora.com.