Simply put, a “conundrum” is a particularly difficult problem that cannot be solved in a satisfactory manner (yes I just made up that definition). It just so happens to be an appropriate way to describe the position I find myself in when the Cardinals make a move that I consider nonsensical or downright dumb.
I absolutely refuse to root against the Cardinals, even if the front office chooses to give away players for a bucket of baseballs. I do not derive satisfaction in seeing the team fail as a result of really bad decisions made by the people in charge. However, I do want to see the decision-makers taken to task for their missteps, and I want blame apportioned appropriately. If mistakes are made, I expect the manager or executive responsible to take the heat and be forthright about defending their decisions. That’s not to say that I expect them to make the right decision every time, but they should be honest and forthcoming about why they do what they do. Simple accountability isn’t too much to ask.
So, what’s a guy to do when something looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, but the front office claims it’s a squirrel?
Take a lesson from The Godfather. “It’s not personal. It’s business.” ~Don Lucchesi
That’s right. It’s not personal, and it’s all about business. It’s about the business of baseball, and my voice will never be heard by the Cardinals front office, because I’m just one fan. I’m just one fan who happened to pay to attend a lot of games last year. This year? This year may be a different story. I may spend a bit more time watching games from the comfort of home. It’s nothing personal against the front office or the team. It’s a non-emotional businesslike decision. More money stays in my pocket instead of going into the team’s pockets. It’s also a very small, symbolic gesture to show my disapproval of what I consider a series of ill-conceived moves resulting in a massive payroll for 2011. Yes, I’ll miss Brendan Ryan. Yes, I wish Joe Mather and Matt Pagnozzi were still with the organization. However, I think Ryan will be better off in Seattle, and I think it’s the best thing for him. Same goes for Mather in Atlanta and Pagnozzi in Colorado. I expect the team to be just fine, but I think that they could be even better.
Here’s the crux of my conundrum. Unlike most baseball teams in MLB, we don’t really know all that much about the Cardinals’ balance sheet. When the GM claims that the payroll has reached the “leaking” point, we have no way of knowing what that even really means. We certainly don’ t know whether or not he’s actually telling the truth, either. That’s a bit discouraging as a fan, because I want to believe what we’re being told. I want to believe that the team is honest with the fans, and that the team is doing everything within reason to put the best product on the field possible and still turn a decent profit. Therein lies the problem, though. What qualifies as the “best product” and what is a “decent profit”?
At this point, I’m not convinced that the team is doing everything possible on the “best product” side. The team spent a decent amount of money in the offseason, but its biggest acquisition was arguably re-signing Jake Westbrook. The rest were free agents who are either looking to have rebound years or just snag backup positions. On the profit side, I don’t think we’ll ever know the whole truth, and that’s a bit unsettling. If Pujols doesn’t get re-signed, will the fans ever know the whole truth about how the negotiations played out?
Regardless of what happens, I’m probably still stuck in my conundrum. I won’t root against the team on the field, but I certainly have issues with the “team” behind the one on the field. I’d like to watch Albert Pujols play the next several years in a Cardinals uniform. If that does not happen, I’m going to look for someone to blame, and I’m probably not going to start with Albert, because he’s bigger than I am.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t have a specific issue with a big payroll, but I do have issue with the accompanying “leaking” claim without proof being provided.
TIDBIT: Today is February 3rd, 2011 which is the Chinese New Year.
Like it? Have a duck that you claim is a squirrel? Find me on Twitter, and we’ll talk about The Godfather!