WHEELER: Pride Drives Albert Into The Angels’ Arms

Kevin Wheeler

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.

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  • anonymous

    I could not agree more….and pride goes before a fall….

    • redhen

      You missed the point. For 11 years he was the best player in baseball, but never had a top 15 salary in any season, and only once had a top 25 salary — in 2006 when he was 17th. He never complained, never held out, never demanded renegotiation. Instead, he just did his job while the Cards won two WS and saved a ton of money.

      When it was the Cards turn to step up, THEY failed him.

      • Bubba Cardinal

        210 or 220 million for 10 years isn’t “stepping up”?? Buy a vowel and get a clue Redhen…

      • Mary Mike Holland

        Greed is still one of the seven deadly sins,and he just committed it. I don’t think it counts either that will send a few thousand to the Domi.Rep.

  • StlMelz


  • Mary Curtis

    Well said Kevin Wheeler. Love it. That is my whole concern, not that he got a mega contract but that he lied about what was really important to him. Another question I have is, Will he go into the HOF as a Angel or as a Cardinal?

  • Mike M

    I think the Cardinals fans are a victim of their own wishful thinking. What’s an athlete SUPPOSED to say, “I hate it here and can’t wait to leave”? The Cardinals and Pujols decided to let his contract expire…it was a risk on the part of both. He delivered and now is reaping the rewards. The Cardinals earned two World Championships while he was here. He doesn’t owe us anything more.

    • Brett K.

      You could say exactly what Berkman did. “It’s all about the money.” All he had to say is that from the beginning. There was no need to say it isn’t about money.

  • topher

    well said, well said! I could care less if he moved on like any other player but he’s supposed to have been the most selfless player in the sport, love saint louis and the fans, us, and loved to play for a winning team. True the Angels are a winning team most of the time but how can you leave a world series championship team for them just because of the size of your paycheck? besides most “normal” people wouldn’t even dream of having $25 million to spend each year or could even spend it, heck most of us would be happy enough with $1 million a year so how can a guy who’s “not about the money” and just made $111 million dollars over the last 7 years really need an additional $250 over the next 10? I can understand the greed of a “normal” player but I can’t understand the trickery, the FRAUD, that he has put Cardinal Nation through. Stan The Man himself called him and asked him to sign with the Cardinals and how could any TRUE CARDINAL say no to that if it’s truly not about the money? I truly believed in him up until this morning when he revealed to us all what a FRAUD he is. I don’t care what kind of charity and stuff he has done but don’t play us like that! that wrong cancels out all the good that he has done and I don’t wish him the best in LA, I hope the experts are right that he’s on a decline that he won’t get out of and he plays the rest of his career with them as an average to below-average player. His trickery has nullified everything he has done for the Cardinals in the past as far as I’m concerned so yes he has brought a lot to the Cardinals history but he nullifies it by deceiving us all like this and taking the money and running.

  • bball

    On the surface it looks like it is about money. But, look at what has happened this year. LaRussa, HOF manager and Alberts friend, retired. The Cardinals Organization went on the cheap to replace the Manager and has blown smoke that Mike Matheny is able to manage this team. I don’t agree that he will be able to manage this team to the postseason. Albert considers this. Albert told the Cardinals he wanted at the beginiing of the 2011 season, 25 million for 10 years, the Cardinals went low. At the winter meetings the Cardinals increased their offer only after other teams were offering. They still went low of Alberts’ request. And now are telling us again that they tried. If the Cardinals would have offered what Albert asked for.he would have signed. I blame the Cardinal Organization for not stepping up to the plate to make sure Albert was a Cardinal for life.

    • redhen

      Exactly right For 11 years he was the best player in baseball, but never had a top 15 salary in any season, and only once had a top 25 salary — in 2006 when he was 17th. He never complained, never held out, never demanded renegotiation. Instead, he just did his job while the Cards won two WS and saved a ton of money.

      When it was the Cards turn to step up, THEY failed him.

    • Brett K.

      Mike Mattheny is Pujols’s neighbor and friend. Just saying. If the Cardinals had offered Pujols what he was asking it would have been a poor move for the organization and would have hindered their chance of winning. Blame the Cardinals organization for wanting to win if you want I guess.

  • topher

    you can blame the Cardinals all you want but you can’t deny that the problem was Albert’s greed in addition to his deception. if he wasn’t “all about the money” like he had led us all to believe then he wouldn’t have been asking for $25 million for 10 years, he would have been sensible enough to know what kind of money the Cardinals had to offer and worked with it, not against it. he revealed to us today that he had in fact been lying to us this whole time about not being “all about the money” as it was the case.

  • RNation

    Albert and Tony aregonna get together again now with the Angels it aint over till its over.

  • Kristina

    Completely agree with this. People still love Edmonds now, and he went to the Cubs. It’s all how you handle a situation, and Albert lied, and for no reason. He’s not the highest paid player, nor will he be – in a hundred years I’m sure someone else will be making even more than A-Rod. Yes, he does great things for charity, but this whole bait and switch casts a shadow on his character, and whether he believed at all the stuff he’s said about Saint Louis. I’ll just hope for an Angels – Cards WS next year.

  • Baseball Fan

    Pujols served the Cardinals well. They were given every opportunity to keep him. Anyone who says they would not make same decision is disingenuous. And why does anyone have to justify action or say “it’s about the money” when it’s obvious that’s what any rational person would do. Good luck Pujols. You did your job well and you should take care of family first.

    • Real Fan

      Did you not understand the point of this article? Nobody is saying pujols shouldn’t take care of his family. The writer is stating that pujols should just have been disingenuous about what he really felt was the most important aspect of the final chapter of his career.

      • Real Fan

        should just *NOT* have been disingenuous…

  • Ben

    Isn’t professional baseball all about money??? If it wasn’t he would just play at his local community center.

  • Tim

    I’ve always felt Pujols was a disingenuous person. He can say all he wants, but money is and always was first and foremost in his life.

    • White Sox Rich

      Disingenuous? I fell you are completely wrong on that account. He can be a DH in LA and extend his playing days by several years. Sure, money factors in but this was a great opportunity to go to a warm climate that will be much better for his body and also the ability to be a DH later in his career.

  • Garrett Burch

    This is what I think of him now! http://youtu.be/u_bG88NH0QA

  • Comment Man

    Albert Pujols lead the Cardinals to 3 World Series appearances and 2 World Series Championships!!!! What more do you Cards fans want?

  • Herb Dalton

    Ok, so I am fed up with all of the “this was about the money” talk. This had very little to do with money and more to do with where Albert’s Wife would like their family to settle down for the rest of at least his professional life. Everybody keeps talking about the loyalty factor. WHAT ABOUT THE LOYALTY TO HIS WIFE AND FAMILY’S HAPPINESS. Everybody knows what its like to live in the Midwest, we love our family’s and the people around us, but we hate the weather, amongst other things. Albert has lived in Kansas City and St. Louis his whole adult life, if the man would like to live somewhere else then why don’t you guys as Cardinals fans, (especially if you loved him SOOO much) be truly and genuinely happy for him. And lets just pretend that it was about the money for a second………..I did the research…….even with inflation 54 million dollars will take care of 6 more generations in his family after his children. Would you say no to something like that even if St. Louis had a parade and said “Please don’t go!!! We love you!!!” It’s like breaking up…. you tell her you just want her to go and be happy but really you want her to meet a jerk just so she can see how great you were. That ain’t cool and I know that my midwesterners are better than that. The real reason you guys are so upset is because he really is what you thought he was. A guy that was never an embarrassment to the organization, played hard, and loved your city. Do you think he couldn’t have left before? After 5 years he had the most impressive statistics EVER in the HISTORY of BASEBALL as a 25 yr old. You guys are great fans, he is a great player and NEWSFLASH…..the two ARENT related, he was gonna be great wherever he started his career, and you guys were gonna still gonna be die hard Cardinals fans. The guy did you a favor, rather than handcuffing your organization for the next ten years he went and took the money from Disney, and now you will be able to continue to have a competitive team for years to come.

    • James Bunch Jr

      Disney hasn’t owned the Angels for quite a few years…


    What a bunch of sour grapes hypocrites. Each and every one of you would do the EXACT same thing if you were in his shoes. Every one works for the money and there is never “enough”. It’s basic fallen human nature. We all say it’s not about the money because we don’t like the fact that it is exclusively just that.

  • Adam Herald

    Maybe it’s about pride for Cardinals fans too? How could Albert leave “the greatest fans in the history of the game?!?!

    Well… we all know what they say about glass houses… if you live in one… you shouldn’t throw stones.

    I say good for Albert.

  • http://orphic.bigwidesky.com/2011/12/albert-the-man-the-myth-the-legend-is-gone-where-does-this-leave-his-brand/ Albert The Man, The Myth, The Legend is Gone? Where Does This Leave His Brand? « Exploring Design and Technology – Orphic – a bigwidesky blog

    […] only the Cardinals, but all across baseball believe that Pujols has now outed himself as a liar. This article by Kevin Wheeler of KMOX highlights what many fans feel about Pujols. He may have won many a fan in LA just by signing, but […]

  • Nickbol

    VANITY!! my favorite sin

  • redhen

    You missed the point. For 11 years he was the best player in baseball, but never had a top 15 salary in any season, and only once had a top 25 salary — in 2006 when he was 17th. He never complained, never held out, never demanded renegotiation. Instead, he just did his job while the Cards won two WS and saved a ton of money.

    When it was the Cards turn to step up, THEY failed him.

  • AH

    Perfect article.

  • Dan Mitchell

    Once the greatest right handed hitter in baseball history played for over a decade in St. Louis & then played his last game for the ol’ birds on the bat in a game 7 World Series winner over an American League team that was supposed to have won. That player went on to play out the rest of his great career on other teams, but never had it as good as it was in St. Louis while the Cardinals enjoyed blissful success. No, not Albert.
    It was Rogers Hornsby,who was traded after winning our 1st W.S.,one baseball generation before Stan Musial. Perhaps we’ll be all right after all…

    • Bubba Cardinal

      You are correct! The Cardinals will live on and play in more World Series…BTW, what kind of history do the Angels have?

      Not much but they are at least 1.000 in WS appearances but LA has some of the most fickle fans in the world…

  • TLobber

    I’m tired of the correlation between performance and salary rating. #1 player is slighted by not having #1 money. That is just pride. There is no real justification for it. 210 million for ten DECLINING years is enough. Period. Rejection of that resulting in loss of local legend status is plain greed. The sickness is insisting that achievement should be backed by (specified) dollars. No athlete who achieves excellence over a defined period of time by way of personal talent and work ethic BUT is rewarded with second or third or fifth mega dollars is abused. Spare me. Strikes me that Albert is the chameleon that Lozano is. We’ve heard from both sides of his mouth this week. Should he grab the money? Sure. But spare me the warm and fuzzy for St. Louis and the fake godly man act. The lord does not smile down on pride and greed.

  • Mark C

    You are dead on Mr Wheeler. it is indeed about pride… now unlike some other commentators in this post – I don’t question the mang’s faith. I do question whether he followed his God or was decieved by the god of greed. Only time will tell…

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