Chris Kerber

KMOX – Now that the post-season is over, open up Pujols season.  Albert Pujols is officially a free agent and it’s a matter of time before we find out if he remains a Cardinal or spurns one of baseball’s best fan bases and winning traditions for the almighty dollar.  If he stays, he remains the baseball hero in St. Louis.  If he leaves, he easily becomes the Lebron James of baseball.  Either way, one thing is perfectly clear to me.  Cardinal fans owe Pujols absolutely nothing.  While Pujols made it perfectly clear during the World Series that his only responsibilities were to his god and his family, I beg to differ.  He has a responsibility to the fans in St. Louis as well.


Pujols owes it to the fans of St. Louis not to drag this thing out and milk it every step along the way.  If he’s going to leave, leave.  If he’s going to stay, stay.  But either way, Pujols needs to make a decision and not drag Cardinal fans through the proverbial wringer Lebron did to Cleveland fans.


For 10 years Cardinal fans have paid the ticket prices to watch Albert play.  The support from the fans is a major reason he was able to receive a 100 + million dollar contract after just three seasons in the big leagues.  The fans are the major reason the Cardinals are willing to throw around another 200 million his direction now.   For 10 years both fans and the corporate community here have supported his charitable efforts, allowing him to do great thing back home.  The ovations down the stretch were not only earned but deserved, and Cardinal fans one final time demonstrated why players enjoy playing in front of them so much.


Look, I get the other argument.  For 10 seasons Pujols has performed like no other in the history of baseball.  Many will argue fans got their money worth and Albert has earned it all.  I don’t argue with that one bit.  But the bond between St. Louis fans and their sports teams and athletes are special.  It’s what makes this a great sports town to be in.  The relationship between the fans and Pujols should be more than just – Pujols plays, fans pay.  It means something more to the fans than just that and I hope it’s the same for Albert.


He has said it’s not about the numbers he puts up, it’s about winning championships.  We are about to find out though if it’s still about winning or the number of zero’s on a paycheck.  Is it about winning or the selfish ego of needing to be called the highest paid player in the game?  Should he be paid a lot?  Yes.  Should it be comparable to some of the best in the game?  Sure.  No argument here.  In the end, the Cardinals will be committing over 300 million to one player over the course of his career.  If that’s not enough to stay in a wining environment, so be it.  Good Bye Albert.  St. Louis fans deserve competitive winning baseball.  They pay for it.  They should demand it, and their demand for it is no less important than the demand for excellence Pujols puts on himself.  The Cardinals cannot trade the financial ability to deliver on their commitment to Cardinal fans to satisfy one player.  Do the Cardinals win the World Series without Freese?  Do they win it without Carpenter, Motte, Berkman, Dotel, Furcal and others?  Nope.


Pujols has said winning is important.  Well the Cardinal’s organization and their fans have put their money where their mouths are.  Now it’s Albert’s turn.  Whatever his decision becomes, and whether he believes it or not, he owes the fans here the respect they have showed him.  He owes it to them not to pull a Lebron.  Cardinal fans deserve that much.