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If St. Louis wasn't threatening to plunge into full-blown panic mode before Sunday night, it is now: According to a Bob Nightengale report in USA Today, a source says that Albert Pujols(notes) has rejected a contract offer from the St. Louis Cardinals and is poised to end talks of a contract extension on Tuesday. He's set to report to Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday and Nightengale writes that Pujols has "no intention" of addressing the contract issue with the media.

No word on if the elephant in the clubhouse will be assigned its own locker.

This is obviously the biggest story in spring training this season and it's likely it'll remain that way during the regular season. A few thoughts before it advances (or doesn't) further:

• If true, the report that Pujols won't talk about his contract situation with the media — even once — is ridiculous. If Albert wants big-boy money, he needs to stand up and act like one. There are responsibilities that come with asking for a record-setting contract and communicating with the Cardinals fans who have to cheer for you over the next year is one of them. 

• Oooh, La Russa is going to be a real treat this season, isn't he? He's also pledging to stay mum when asked about Pujols' contract status and I'm setting the over/under on him threatening the media horde with a fungo bat on Wednesday at three minutes.

• I can't be the only one who's thought of making a similar video with Will Leitch.

• Get ready for Pujols' saintly image among media and fans to take an absolute beating this week. One Cardinals blog is already thinking about labeling him as "a liar and a religious phony" and there isn't a columnist in the country that will be able to refrain from using "selfish," "egotistical" and "greedy" while weighing in on the topic. 

• It's cute to see some in St. Louis wondering if the deadline really matters. If Pujols wanted to give the Cardinals a hometown deal and all of the speculation early, he could have done so any time over the last two or three years. When it comes to getting this close to the possibility of an open market, there are few baseball players who can resist seeing what they're really worth. Pujols will likely be no exception.

• Finally, I've heard the talk that Pujols wants more money than Alex Rodriguez(notes) as a fiscal confirmation that he's the best player in the game. If that's true, the only route that Pujols has is to hit the open market and find the owner that's as impulsive as Tom Hicks or the Steinbrenner family. Unfortunately for Pujols, the only owner I can think of that fits that profile is Dan Snyder. Anyone know how Pujols looks in shoulder pads?

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