ACKERMAN: Where’s The Love?

Well, this spring training is off to a terrific start.

Let’s face reality here: With the developments yesterday in Albertageddon, the door has been opened to the possibility that Albert Pujols could be playing his final season as a Cardinal.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Redbird fans.

This relationship is not over.  There’s a full season ahead of us.  (Will winning soothe the irritation?)  And there’s plenty of time for the Cardinals to put together a contract extension, even if Pujols decides to close down talks until free agency.  He’s property of the Cardinals until then.  Chairman Bill Dewitt, Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak have no competition when it comes to formulating an offer.  At least not yet.

It’s not an issue to me if Pujols and the Cardinals are at odds on an extension.  That’s business.  It’s just bad timing.  This has all happened during the week that we’re usually celebrating the game we love.

“Pitchers and catchers report.”  Four of the greatest words in baseball.  This morning, when official workouts begin at Roger Dean Stadium, it’s supposed to be a glorious time.  Warm breezes rustling the leaves of nearby palm trees.  The sound of a baseball smacking into a worn glove.  And then this unresolved contract situation elbows its way into our fantasy land.

It’s like, after settling into our seats at the ballgame, we’ve been served a hot dog that’s, um, cold.

Tomorrow, everyone should take a moment to step away from the Pujols story.  Stan Musial is receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  There’s no reason to utter a word about the Pujols contract if it’s not going be resolved in the next 24 hours.

Musial will remind us of all that’s good about Cardinal Baseball.  He’ll smile, extend that hand that helped connect on 3,630 hits — and connected countless teammates, peers and fans — and he’ll exchange pleasantries with President Obama and the dignitaries.  Musial will accept the highest honor a civilian can receive, all while representing St. Louis, our baseball heritage and our ideals…at the White House.  He’s still the perfect person to do that for us.  The perfect Cardinal.

Congratulations, Stan.  A new season begins.  Thanks for starting it off right.

Tom Ackerman is Sports Director at KMOX.  He can be heard weekday mornings at :15 and :45 past the hour on “Total Information A.M.”


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