Albert Pujols heads to tinsel town … kinda


The Albert Pujols era begins in L.A., um, Anaheim. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Last week, Albert Pujols shook the rafters of baseball and shocked the world when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels for over $250 million and 10 years.

Yes, there’s a possibility that I’m overstating the impact of this, but I feel like I’m almost a member of the media, and it is the job of any member of the media to blow things out of proportion and present only selected facts and ideologies to help limit your capacity to think for yourself.

As most baseball fans with even just a passing interest in the offseason know, we are waist-deep in the offseason. And last week, Major League Baseball held its “winter meetings” in Dallas. Let’s set aside the fact that it is not yet winter – there is a preponderance of evidence that “meetings” took place (one out of two isn’t bad). Traditionally, there are a lot of trades and free-agent signings that take place at these (late-autumn?) meetings. And this year was no exception.

Teams swapped minor-league players and some low-level big leaguers, Ned Colletti ran around signing every player that everyone else didn’t want for three times their value and most of the top free agents left their original teams to play for new teams. The heavyset Prince Fielder was one of the very few top-talent players to not sign. And while I see that it would be very easy for me to make fat jokes here to explain this, I will refrain from saying things like, “his agent had a contract offer, but Prince ate it” or “very few cities are properly zoned for a structure his size” or “gravity.” But don’t worry about Prince – he’ll get his giant pile of money – and food, of course.

As is also traditional in baseball and every other sport, most of these players were overpaid in terms of dollars per year and the length of their contracts. I’m not one of those people who think “players these days make too much money and when I was a kid everything was better and they didn’t use steroids, just cocaine and amphetamines, and the sky was filled with rainbows and unicorns and players just played for the love of the sport.”

But general managers these days tend to give out too much money to get a good player (or bad players if you’re Ned Colletti) because maybe that good player will help you keep your job – though it will more than likely not make a difference and cripple the team financially for years to come.

And that is the perfect lead in to talking about Albert Pujols and his contract with the Angels — $254 million over 10 years. That’s $25.4 million per year. That’s actually not that bad. For now. Pujols is 32 (allegedly – many think he’s a couple years older) and is already in what baseball experts call a player’s “decline phase.” So, will he be worth $25 million in five years? Probably not – and then there’s five more years after that.

I am not Albert Pujols – as you probably know – but I’ve got a few ideas behind what really went down here. Pujols was (and probably still is to some degree) beloved in St. Louis. He’s been one of the few very best players in the league for years and he helped the Cardinals win two World Series titles. He claims he felt the Cardinals organization handled his negotiations poorly and that he felt disrespected. This the same team that has paid him over $100 million in his career and before his last (mildly disappointing) season offered him a nine-year $200 million contract. Maybe with all that money he can buy a dictionary and look up the definition of disrespect.

Apprently, Pujols signed with the Angels without ever meeting with anyone from the team – so, it’s unclear just how much respect they slathered upon him. Oh, right, except for one way: the $254 million contract offer. Pujols proved that really the most important thing is not the teammates or the fans or the location, but dollars – lots and lots of dollars.

Granted, Los Angeles is probably a better “location” than St. Louis in terms of climate – and most cities actually. And being in L.A. can be very glamorous and exciting. But, and I don’t know if Pujols knows this, the Angels are not in Los Angeles. They are in Anaheim. That’s why the team is called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, Known Universe.

Anaheim is in Orange County and Orange County is not Los Angeles County. This whole Los Angeles Angels thing is kind of hilarious to someone who is actually in Los Angeles, because people in L.A. look down on Orange County folks as beneath them geographically and socially. And people in Orange County detest folks from L.A. for being snobs. And now all those Anaheimians have to go out and cheer for their “Los Angeles” team. How much do they hate it? They took the team to court over it.

Anyway, the Angels’ owner Arte Moreno has a lot of money and his team has been somewhat unsuccessful in years past at luring big-name free agents because they just weren’t willing to pay those extra dollars that the top agents demand for their players. This offseason was different. They paid up. They signed Pujols. They also signed C.J. Wilson away from the Texas Rangers. However, their biggest addition was the subtraction of catcher Jeff Mathis from the team. That move alone made them a playoffs contender and now, depending on what moves the division rival Rangers make, the Angels are considered a favorite to win the division.

And St. Louis? Well, they’re kind of screwed. They disrespected Pujols. If there’s one thing I know in life it’s that you don’t disrespect Pujols. But St. Louis did just that to Pujols. And when the Angels came in with a bigger offer, Pujols told St. Louis where they could shove it – right in their poo holes.

This just in: Ryan Braun shook the rafters of baseball and shocked the world when he tested positive for a banned substance and now faces a 50-game suspension. We don’t know what the substance is or really what any of the facts of the case are – but we are all horrified that this could happen and we can only brace for the impact this will have on all of our lives as men, women and children have had their faith in humanity decimated by this transgression against the greater morality.

Now, don’t you feel better? You don’t have to think anymore. I’ve done it for you. And now you can just ease into your couch and watch “American Idol.”

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