The St. Louis Cardinals have waited too long to sign Albert Pujols.
If they wait any longer, they will pass up the opportunity to have the greatest baseball player of this generation — I would argue the best player ever — for a mere $5 million per year.
Yes, I say $5 million per year.
“But he’s asking for $30 million a year for 10 years!” you say. “How does your math even add up?”
Let me ask you a question: How much is Stan Musial worth to the City of St. Louis and Cardinals Nation?
If you have the tiniest bit of Cardinals blood running through your veins, your answer should be: Stan Musial is invaluable, priceless.
Stan The Man is the greatest ambassador for St. Louis Cardinals Baseball, the City of St. Louis, and, arguably, the whole of Major League Baseball. If you don’t believe me, ask the shop owners in Cooperstown. Those Yankees fans who bow at the altars of Ruth, DiMaggio, Berra and Mantle will tell you that Musial is probably the most humble (and unsung) hero of the game.
Musial is now 90 years old. He’s been our ambassador since he hit the field running as a rookie 70 years ago in 1941. He is a lifelong Cardinal, a franchise player, general manager, advocate. He became a St. Louis businessman — bowling alley owner (where I first met him when I was a kid in the 1980s) and restaurant owner. He’s originally from Pennsylvania, but no one would ever consider Baseball’s Perfect Knight less than “Mr. St. Louis.”
You know this.
Now, back to Pujols.
If we pay Pujols his requested $300 million contract ($30 million each year for the next 10 years) we guarantee the torch will be passed and will be in Gold Glove hands for decades to come.
For the next 60-plus years, Albert Pujols will be our ambassador and advocate — the guy who rallies Cardinals Nation, the guy who dons our cap when he enters the Hall of Fame, the guy who emcees events, goes out into the community, brings people into the city. Everywhere he goes, he’s a Cardinal.
$300 million divided by 60 years equals $5 million per year.
We’re not simply paying for on-the-field talent. We’re paying for a lifetime. We’re paying for an incredible athlete with God-given talents, a charitable spirit, and a testimony that puts everything into perspective. And for those who argue it’s against his Christianity to demand such a price, I ask: What would you do?
“I don’t care if I’m the best at what I do. I would never demand such a thing!” you scream. “I don’t care how much he gives away. No athlete is worth that kind of money!”
You’re right. But this is what has been dictated. And our society shows that you pay the most for the best. That’s why we St. Louisans are willing to forgo the $5 special at Little Caesars and drop $12 on Imo’s. It’s why we wait in long lines at Ted Drewes.
The fact is this: Some owner will pay that kind of money. Somebody, a lesser athlete, will get that money if Albert doesn’t.
In 2006, my wife and I had the opportunity to go to Game 4 of the World Series. The face value of each ticket was $175. We didn’t really have the money, but our rationalization went something like this: (1) World Series tickets will never be cheaper than they are right now and (2) We never know when this opportunity will come again.
We bought the tickets and had the greatest time. Memories were created that will last forever.
Guys like Stan Musial and Albert Pujols don’t come around very often. In fact, their rookie seasons were exactly 60 years apart.
So, I challenge the St. Louis Cardinals. Before you start looking at the short term, don’t forget the long term and the opportunity you have in front of you. I’ll use my wife’s argument:
- The price for a guy like Pujols will never be any cheaper than it is right now.
- You never know when this opportunity will come around again.
Sixty years is a long time to wait.