- By Ross Read
Many people woke up to the surprise news. Albert Pujols is leaving the St. Louis Cardinals for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Wow that's a mouth full! St. Louishas a cleaner sound to it. It sounds nostalgic, not corporate driven. When you think of baseball, you think of towns like St. Louis, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. At least if you know your baseball history you do. These were benchmark franchises when the league was in its infancy. When you think Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim you think Disney and money. Money is ruining baseball, each 10 year $250 million contract at a time.
Baseball is supposed to fair. Think about it. When you get a sacrifice fly or hit, it doesn't count against your batting average. If a run scores because someone makes an error the pitcher is not punished, his E.R.A. stays the same. Baseball is about rewarding someone for doing the right thing. If your patient and don't swing away at crazy pitches, you get a base in the form of a walk. Therefore, why has the sport punished teams by not being fair and adopting less patient habits?
Guys like George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr., Roberto Clemente and Robin Yount played their entire career with the same team they started with. What they also have in common is that their teams are now considered "small market teams." Brett was with the Kansas City Royals, Ripken Jr. with the Baltimore Orioles and Young with the Milwaukee Brewers. Those players were legends in those cities. They still are to this day. They are hall of famers who regaled fans with their talent and became legends because of it. The players were rewarded as well. They were rewarded with a genuine sense of love and appreciation nobody can ever take away from them. All of that is lost in today's baseball. It's been replaced with obscene contracts and big market teams buy all the talent.
The New York Yankees have no problem competing every season. In fact, if they don't win a World Series their season is considered a failure. The Boston Red Sox seem to adopt the same mentality. It is because they can throw money at any problem area on their team. If what they did does not work, just throw more money at it to fix it. The Yankees had a payroll just over $206 million last season. The Red Sox were just over $162 million. In contrast the Cardinals, Brewers, Royals and Pirates did not even have half of the Yankees payroll.
How can these teams compete? Pittsburgh still has not recovered from Barry Bonds leaving in 1993 for more money. Baltimore cannot recruit big name free agents because they don't have the same financial flexibility as their division counterparts the Yankees and Red Sox. Milwaukee is on the verge of losing their young superstar Prince Fielder and St. Louis has Pujols, their franchise cornerstone who brought them two world championships. What is a fan in these great baseball towns supposed to do? An 8-year-old who loves Albert Pujols doesn't understand why he left. He just knows the #5 jersey he has is no longer relevant.
Major League Baseball should be ashamed for allowing this to happen. Baseball is no longer about being fair; it's about T.V. deals and corporate sponsors. Maybe they should just create a league of 10 teams because that's all that seems to matter these days.