Pujols Took The Money. Good For Him.

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball – 12/9/11

Albert Pujols made the right move.

Go ahead, romanticize about a lifetime-reign for Prince Albert in St. Louis – it’s a nice fantasy.   In reality, Pujols did what anyone else in his enviable position of power would consider doing: he took care of himself.

Yes, some athletes care deeply about their legacy within an organization.  They feel allegiance to a supportive fan base, are comfortable within the community, and choose to accept less money to stay.  That is their prerogative.  It is certainly a noble approach to free agency.

Cardinals Fan (Jon Givens) Has Fun With His Pujols Jersey via Twitter.

However, it’s difficult to begrudge any athlete from raking in as much loot as humanly possible when the opportunity presents itself.  Athletes have a very limited window to earn their money – when it opens up, why not grab as much cash as possible before it slams shut on their money-hungry fingertips?

This was most likely the final contract Pujols will ever sign in his baseball career and there was no reason to leave anything on the table.

He is one of the top hitting talents the game of baseball has ever seen and should be paid accordingly.  The Cardinals reportedly offered him around $200M for 9 years and Pujols accepted a 10-year deal in excess of $250M with the Angels.  Had he taken the Cardinals deal, Pujols wouldn’t exactly have been crying poverty, but he decided to agree to the bigger deal, and maximize his earnings.

He has every right to do so.

Many are questioning Pujols’ loyalty to St. Louis and pure passion for the game.  Let’s be honest, players play the game to get paid.  How many players on your favorite team are playing for free?  Better yet, when is the last time you told your boss that you’d like to take a pay cut because you are enjoying your job so much and feel guilty being paid so well?

There are obvious perks to playing baseball for a living, but in the end, it’s still a job.  A glamorous job, but a job.  Players work extremely hard, train year-round, are under constant scrutiny, and are expected to perform on a national, and at times global, stage.

Regardless of the job responsibilities and pressure to succeed, a $250M payday can be perceived as gluttonous.  But consider this: These larger-than-life figures are the face of their respective franchises and are responsible for much of the team’s overall revenue.  All of that money has to go somewhere.  It’s either lining the owner’s pockets or the player’s – why not go to the ones actually putting fans in the seats?

So Pujols will take his 445 HR, .328 average, and 3 MVP’s right under the famous St. Louis Arch and through the “Gateway to the West,” all the way to Anaheim.  Did he tarnish his legacy in St. Louis?  Perhaps, but Pujols did what was best for him and decided to go where the most money was.

Cardinals fans: Be mad.  Don’t hate.

Albert Pujols made the right move.

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