December 16, 2011
You probably don't have to go too far in St. Louis these days to find a person who believes that Albert Pujols' heart was two sizes too small when he signed his mega contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
But to hear Tony La Russa tell it, the complete opposite might actually be true.
In fact, if you listen to Pujols' old skipper, it sounds like the star is increasingly realizing that money isn't everything in the wake of bolting the St. Louis Cardinals and their legion of loyal fans for about $50 million more dollars less than 10 days ago.
Cue the Rosebud references, everyone.
La Russa said Pujols has been "in pain'' since he accepted the Los Angeles Angels' 10-year, $254-million offer.
"I know it was a painful decision and it pains him now," La Russa said. "He deserves what he got. He earned it. There's no bad guy here. I think the Cardinals went where they thought they should go. If they can't go farther, they shouldn't."
La Russa underscored the sense of disappointment Pujols felt about the Cardinals' negotiating tactics and recounted a process that left the Angels to overwhelm the Cardinals' bid and Pujols to 'struggle" with reconciling their aggressive interest against the Cardinals' cautious approach.
Joe Strauss' entire article is interesting in that La Russa tap dances between getting Pujols' message out there and acknowledging that his former club had to be pragmatic when it came to an out-of-control market for a 32-year-old first baseman. TLR is so uniquely positioned in this drama that it'd be unfortunate if this is the only time he opens up about the situation.
Of course, it's also interesting that Pujols and his agent spent the last two years telling everyone that this was all just business and now Pujols is saddened to learn that the Cardinals actually treated their retention efforts that way. It's ridiculously hilarious.
So what's next in this story cycle? Pujols being amazed that no one on Earth is sympathetic to this story about his pained feelings over chasing that big payday?
Or finding out that $250 million will buy a whole army of shrinks to get through this?