What a difference a decade makes
I can remember being 33 years old.
I was still in good shape, was playing rec league softball and basketball and could hold my own with the best of them. Sure, I wasn’t a spring chicken anymore and the younger guys would get the better of me. But they were only able to do so because of a slight physical margin. I was able to make up for it with knowledge and cunning.
But even 10 years later, things had changed drastically. I slowed down a lot, didn’t have the same passion to play and just had more on my mind than how I was going to score the next bucket or get an extra base. And now that it is almost 15 years later, I can barely get out of bed in the morning without a 10-minute warm up.
And it is in that light that I look at the offers Albert Pujols is getting getting and asking what wing nut is in charge of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins? Nine or 10-year deals? At $20 million per year? Yeah, makes great sense if you’re Pujols, but what a disaster for either of these teams should they get him.
OK, so you all know by now I am no Albert Pujols. Heck, I’m not even the last guy on the bench in any professional sport – except for maybe bowling. I might be able to hang with one of those guys. But Pujols isn’t going to be remotely the same guy in 10 years that he is now. And the man is now isn’t the same guy he was just four years ago. Just look at the statistics over the past few years. Both his batting average and slugging percentage have gone down each of the last four years. So have most of his other stats, including his ground out to air out ratio. For the first time in his career it went over 1.0, meaning he is hitting the ball lower than ever before.
Pujols suffered the first really significant injury of his career this year, so that should account for some set backs. But as he grows older he will only get more of these types of injuries and they will get progressively worse and elongated. It’s nothing he’s doing, it’s just the science of aging.
For all he has meant to the city and the franchise, St. Louis doesn’t need that kind of financial burden hanging around their neck. It is one of the great baseball cities of all time and they will support any team that plays there. But if they were to pull back from the Pujols deal, they would have a lot of money to spend elsewhere. They may be able to extend their current World Series title into two or three or several over a short period of time. They have good pitching and a great supporting cast. Add a few more good players in there and they could be the dynasty the Phillies want to be.
As for Florida, this seems like a cash grab. They have yet to show any real support for the Marlins as a city and a region. And why should fans support them? As soon as they won their last title they sold off the pieces from it like some kind of going out of business sale. Combine that with their lack of long-term management skills and the deal makes no sense for them either – in terms of baseball.
But as a get rich quick scheme, Miami has a perfect setup if they get Pujols. Provided, that is, that he is willing to forgo the ‘No Trade’ clause in his contract. But with the numbers they are dangling out there, Pujols just might bite at it.
If he does, he’ll be happy for a few years, if even that. See, the Marlins have Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. Or at least they did until they picked up Jose Reyes last week. This is already causing some hard feeling by Ramirez, who is expected to play third base but has already said he doesn’t want to do it. Ramirez is an immature player who has shown he can be a clubhouse killer in the past, so Pujols may want to reconsider what he’s getting into should he follow Lebron & Company and take his talents to South Beach as well.
Overall, this is just boys being boys. They take what they can get, don’t look to the future and play on as though the rest of the world doesn’t exist. It’s a sad, but predictable state of affairs.
As for the rest of us, at least we can say that we dress better than we did 10 years ago. Although my wife is likely to argue against me on that point.