March 11, 2011
We all knew that Albert Pujols'(notes) unresolved contract extension would create a number of storylines and we didn't have to be that imaginative to see this big, fat pitch of a query heading toward home plate.
Should the deep religious convictions of the St. Louis Cardinals star play a role in his negotiations for the huge payday that will soon be his?
For the love of money is the root of all evil.
Yes, it turns out that Pujols can't even sit in a church pew to escape opinions of how much he should ask for or how much he deserves. Here's a sampling of responses to Townsend as he searches for "how Pujols' public, God-fearing image squares with a private quest for wealth." (By the way, all the religious men quoted by Townsend appear to be Cardinals fans.)
Rev. Sean Michael Lucas (via two Tweets): "… how is AP's testimony affected if he holds the Cards hostage for $30m/10yrs? @ what pt does 1 Tim 6:10 apply here? ... Unless there is a big part of this contract that goes to Pujols Foundation ($30-50m) he's open 2 the question. Legitimately."
Rev. Darrin Patrick: "Nobody really confesses to [greed]. Lust, anxiety — sure. But very few people say, 'I'm greedy,' and I absolutely think that [Pujols] should be on guard for that."
Baptist pastor Scott Lamb: "Consumption mentality is very American, but it's not very biblical. People are asking whether [Pujols] should grab all he can get, and what his moral responsibilities are in terms of what to do with that money."
OK, so I hope we can all admit that this question, as posed, is completely ridiculous. There are plenty of religious athletes out there and it's hard to remember even one of them being questioned about the amount of money they were able to command at the bargaining table. Just because Pujols is on the top end of his profession and very vocal about his faith doesn't mean he should be put in a position where his moral constitution or decision-making skills are being questioned before a deal is even struck. (And especially not by leaders whose congregations and charities could stand to benefit from Pujols' generosity.)
At the same time, there are a couple of interesting faith-based angles here. That Timothy 6:10 mention is interesting if you view it in the context of Pujols making the right decision for himself, his family and his foundation. And not for, say, outside concerns like the player's union.
Viewing the question from another side, should the fact that Pujols is very charitable with his money change how much a team offers him? One player may never be worth $30 million for one season, but does knowing that he's going to spend it on something worthwhile and not piddle it away on jewelry or cars make it easier for a team to up an already large offer?
All things to ponder on this months-long journey to see where Pujols ends up.