WHEELER: Pride Drives Albert Into The Angels’ Arms
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“It’s not about the money every time. It’s about your family, uh you know, I’ve been blessed with $100 million which is more than what I deserve. It’s about being in the best city to play sports, you know not just baseball, sports at all. Our fans are the best.“
- Albert Pujols
Those are the words of Albert Pujols not all that long ago. It would appear that something changed between the time those words crossed his lips and the moment he decided to take the Angels money.
On many occasions Albert has said “it’s not about the money.”
Apparently what he really meant to say was “it’s not about how much money I have to spend on material things.”
Clearly the money mattered to Albert Pujols. Maybe it’s not about buying more houses and cars. Maybe it’s not about gadgets, toys and an extravagant lifestyle.
But the money is is most certainly a point of pride. It’s about ego.
According to a couple of cost of living calculators found on-line, $25 million in L.A. spends the same as about $16.5 million would in St. Louis. Albert made $16 million a year over the last four years so in terms of the value he gets from the salary he takes home he’ll be breaking even.
Clearly the “take home pay” isn’t what matters. It’s the number.
That’s a symbol for his status as one of the best players in the game. It puts him right alongside Ryan Howard as the highest paid first basemen in the sport’s history. And that’s what this whole thing is all about.
In fairness I should point out that Albert will likely be worth more money off the field in Los Angeles. It would seem logical to assume that endorsement opportunities will be more frequent, and more profitable, than they were in St. Louis. In the end he will likely come out ahead when it comes to cash, even if he keeps less of his money out in California, but his leaving has little to do with that.
Albert talked a lot about winning during his time with the Cardinals and that’s all this franchise did while he was here.
- Two World Series championships.
- Three World Series appearances.
- Seven playoff appearances in 11 seasons.
- Five division titles.
- 994 wins – an average of 90 per season.
I’d say that constitutes winning so clearly Albert’s decision wasn’t about that, contrary to most of his previous statements on what matters most to him. In the past Pujols even went so far as to say that it wouldn’t make sense to quibble over $3-4 million more per season but that’s pretty much the difference between the offer he accepted from the Angels and the one he rejected from the Cardinals.
Albert also talked a lot about family during his time in St. Louis
“I talk to all the guys that play in different organizations and this (St. Louis) is the best organization because (of) the things they allow us to do with our families, bringing kids to the ballpark and being in the clubhouse. So this is the right place for me to be…for me and my family, right now.”
So what changed? What made the man who repeatedly told us his priorities were family and winning – not salary – leave for greener pastures?
Albert cares about his family, I would never question that. If you see him around his kids you can tell he is a loving, attentive father. But he is the one who cited family as the reason St. Louis was the best organization in baseball and that is going to invite uncomfortable questions.
None of us can blame Albert for agreeing to whatever he thinks was the best contract for him and his family. But it is more than fair to criticize people who say one thing and then do the complete opposite a short time later.
My problem with Albert isn’t that he took the money and ran. Heck, in a similar situation I might do the same thing.
My problem with Pujols is that he blew smoke up everyone’s dresses for years and then did a complete 180 when it came time to make a decision.
Albert told us his top priority was winning and then he left the World Champs for a bigger paycheck. He told us that the Cardinals organization was the best in baseball and then he left for a “milestone” deal that reinforced his standing as the best in the game at what he does.
There is nothing wrong with seeking out the biggest contract when you’re a free agent but there is something wrong about saying one thing and then doing another. Be honest about what you want. If you want to make more money just be up front about it. If you simply want to reach a number – $250,000,000 – that’s fine too, so long as you’re up front about it.
Albert is still a good person who does great charitable work. I don’t expect that will change just because he’s headed out West. This is not a critique of, or an attack on, Albert Pujols the human being.
This is about people not liking to be deceived. Whether Albert Pujols did so intentionally or not, he mislead Cardinals fans everywhere. They have every right to be angry about it.