“Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” ~Bob Marley (Three Little Birds)
Leave it to Bob Marley to put it so eloquently. I’m not the official spokesperson for Cardinal Nation, but I think I speak for at least a small group of fans when I say “Kindly leave us the alone for the rest of the season, please mon.” Go back to writing about Ponzi schemes, parity, and how the Phillies and/or Giants rotation will take their respective teams to 120+ wins. Until the Pujols contract situation arose, the Cardinals were barely a blip on the national baseball radar. That’s not to say that the team wasn’t given its due. It was. It’s just that it wasn’t the intense focus of 24/7 coverage, and we liked it that way. When the national media did finally decide to devote serious attention to St. Louis, it failed miserably. Kthxbai. (That’s “okay + thanks + bye” for anybody in need of a translation.)
Yesterday was a landmark day in Cardinal baseball history. One of the classiest men in all of baseball history, Stan “The Man” Musial, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Maybe it’s just me, but at least 90% of all baseball coverage related to the Cardinals should have been devoted to the White House award ceremony and Stan’s career/accomplishments. Instead, I saw about this much of Stan (spreads fingers about 2 inches apart) and about this much Albert coverage (spreads arms across dining room table). In baseball terms, the national media “dropped the ball”.
Fortunately for the national media folks, the local media guys in the Gateway City were backing you up on the play. They limited the damage. Maybe that’s because they’ve got their ears to the ground and their fingers on the collective pulse of the Cardinal Nation. We don’t need to be told to “back away from the ledge”. We’re not sheep or lemmings. Sure, some people are going to overreact a bit. Maybe a couple dozen will swear off watching games for the season. Perhaps 20-30 will write letters to editors or even the team management declaring their lifelong contempt for this, that, or the other. They are probably the same people who get overly excited when the Cardinals are down by 2-3 runs after the 1st inning. Those same people may even turn off their televisions and go for a walk………only to come back 20 minutes later to find out what the score is. Give us some credit, folks.
Realize this. We know that Pujols is here for the 2011 season, and we’ll make the most of it. Maybe there will be a smattering of boos directed at Albert during the home opener. The number of people booing might strongly correlate to the number of people who have managed to down a six pack prior to first pitch, but we’ll never be sure, will we? The cheering will drown out the boos. That’s just how things work around here. We may not be happy with the way things are going, but we’ll still be cheering for the name on the front of the jersey. We’ve worked hard to earn that “best fans in baseball” reputation, and we’re not going to lose it over a contract issue, even if it does involve #5. Players come and go. Owners and ownership groups may come and go. The fans? We’re still here. We’ll be here all season long. Believe that.
We still believe that a deal can get done during or after the season. If it doesn’t happen, then we’ll move on. Between now and then, spare us the ridiculous speculation based on nothing more than hearsay. If it’s more than hearsay, then it’s probably tampering, and we’d love to hear about tampering. Yes, any number of teams may try to clear enough payroll to make an offer to Pujols. Sure, the Cubs, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, and a few other teams “make sense” as potential suitors. So do the Cardinals. Go figure. Also, Albert already lives fairly close to Busch Stadium, and he’s rooted himself deeply into the community. If he really wanted to be gone, he could just say “I’m gone.” Haven’t heard that one yet, have you? Didn’t think so.
Of course, both Albert and the Cardinals are taking a significant risk by going into the 2011 season with all this uncertainty, but I’d estimate that Albert is taking the bigger risk of the two. He’s basically still sitting on an unredeemed lotto ticket worth something north of $200M. All it takes is a minor, nagging injury to bring his numbers down to earth, and teams will be less likely to commit $250-300M over the next 8-10 years. A major injury would pretty much turn his unredeemed lotto ticket into confetti. I’d also guess that Albert isn’t exactly winning over fans by the thousands at the moment. Declining millions of dollars in hopes of getting millions more doesn’t usually cast a person in the best light. Actually, it makes a person look greedy (see also Latrell Sprewell). It doesn’t really matter what you do for a living, though. If you go to your boss and ask for double your current salary/wage, the first reaction probably won’t be “Absolutely! What a great idea!”
Fortunately for Albert Pujols and Dan Lozano, we’re not talking about ABC Corporation, and Cardinal Nation is pretty much hunkered down in “sit and wait” mode already. We’ve done a quick pass of all the nearby bridges, and nobody appeared ready to leap. The local grocery stores seem to be well stocked with all the basic necessities – rations like bread, milk, eggs, frozen pizzas, Hot Pockets, croissants, brie, salsa, tortilla chips, and pitas. We’ve got plenty of batteries for flashlights…and Wii remotes. We’ll still pack Busch Stadium full of red and white, and we’ll keep buying jerseys and hats. Of course, we’ll still do those things, even if Albert makes an Exodus out of St. Louis. No Pujols, no cry.
TIDBIT: Yes, I capitalized “Exodus” on purpose. “Exodus” is the title of the album on which the song “Three Little Birds” originally appeared. Ya heard me?
Like it? Wanna throw on some Bob Marley and get…….some takeout? Follow gr33nazn on Twitter and we’ll all look for the rising sun!