Today Albert Pujols, the great slugger who was a staple for the St. Louis Cardinals for the last eleven seasons, agreed to terms on a ten-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels are an outstanding organization in a major media market and this move may just put them over the top and send them to the World Series in 2012…Pujols is that good.
The thing that bothers me is that, by accepting the contract from the Angels, Albert may have lessened his legacy a bit. Regardless of the decision he will go down as one of the game’s all-time great players but in the world we live in today, how many great athletes spend their entire career with one team, especially in baseball where the career length is much longer than the other sports?
Albert is beloved in St. Louis and led them to two World Series titles. He has established a terrific charitable foundation there and he was the face of that storied franchise. Had he elected to take a little less money he would go down as one of the greatest Cardinals in history right alongside the legendary Stan Musial.
When you think of Derek Jeter you think of the Yankees, when you think of Cal Ripken you think of the Orioles, when you think of Chipper Jones you think of the Braves and when you think of Kirby Puckett you think of the Twins. Now when you think of Albert you will think of a great player but his ties to a city will be fleeting and he will split his illustrious career between at least two teams.
Let me stress that I don’t think less of his for leaving the Cards and I don’t begrudge his right to go wherever he wants and make all the money he can. I just wonder if he would have stood for so much more in the history of the game if he stayed in St. Louis.
The days of our athletes coming to an agreement with one team over the course of their career is very rare and it isn’t anyone’s fault, just the way the system works these days. No one is to blame for his departure. The Cardinals could have locked up Albert a few years ago and not waited for him to become a free agent and Albert could have chosen to accept a little less time and a little less money but neither happened.
I wish him the best…good guy, great player…but I believe his legacy could have been so much greater had he stayed in St. Louis.
John Maroon is President of Maroon PR. Contact him at John@MaroonPR.com.