Pujols Deserts St. Louis Cardinals for Anaheim Angels: Fan’s Immediate Reaction

The Anaheim Angels have appeared out of nowhere and secured the services of former St. Louis Cardinals icon Albert Pujols(notes) to the tune of $250-260 million over 10 years. As a fan of the Cardinals and of Pujols, this news makes me sick.

Albert Pujols is running to the bank by running out on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Wikimedia Commons

How quickly the feel-good story of the Cardinals' run to the 2011 MLB playoffs and their ultimate World Series championship comes crashing to the ground like a ton of bricks. First, it was the retirement of long-time manager Tony LaRussa. That alone was tough to take, since I'm also an ardent fan of the Oakland Athletics, and LaRussa's move to from Oakland to St. Louis played a large role in my love of the Cardinals.

But with LaRussa, I could understand it. He's been managing for a really long time, he had been pondering walking away for awhile, and what better time to retire than when you're on top?

Pujols, though, really ticks me off.

He knows what he means to the city of St. Louis and to Cardinals fans everywhere. He's an icon of the Cardinals organization. Imagining him in an Angels uniform is like trying to imagine Cal Ripken, Jr. in a Seattle Mariners jersey, Derek Jeter(notes) as a member of the Miami Marlins, or Chipper Jones(notes) taking the field for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It violates natural law. Pujols was supposed to be a Cardinal forever.

Instead, he sold out for an average of $3 or $4 million a year. The Cardinals reportedly offered him something in the neighborhood of $220 million over 10 years, but I guess that wasn't enough for Pujols to feed his family. Instead, he's abandoning St. Louis for Los Angeles, where the substantially higher cost of living there negates the slight increase in offered salaries.

I was really hoping that Pujols would turn out to be different from all the other greedy athletes who are already ridiculously overpaid just for playing a game. I was hoping he'd be a bigger man than to just jump at the largest pile of cash on the table. I was hoping he'd understand that the Cardinals can't compete in a bidding war with the team that has the fourth-largest payroll in MLB and still be able to afford to put any other decent players on the field around him.

I was hoping he'd recognize that he's an icon to St. Louis and to all of his fans, and that ripping out the hearts of millions isn't worth having just a little more pocket change when you're already financially set for generations to come.

But no. The almighty dollar sign wins again, and Pujols establishes his legacy as a superstar who abandons his city, his team, and his fans at the first sound of a cash register.

The author is a longtime fan of the Cardinals and a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.

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Updated Thursday, Dec 8, 2011