It's easy for me to say -- because I'm not the one looking at all of those zeroes and commas -- but I like to think I would have accepted outlandish money to be a hero in the baseball bastion that is St. Louis rather than gone for ultra-outlandish money to be a mercenary in the mall-land that is Anaheim.
Nobody should begrudge Albert Pujols his millions. If any ballplayer has "earned" a $254 million payday, it is this man, one of the great hitters of this or any generation.
Still, when you're going to get some $200 million over 10 years, as the Cardinals reportedly offered, it's hard to imagine why that extra $54 million really matters to one's bottom line.
I mean, if your best friend buys you a $2.00 present, are you going to dump him because some other guy tried to buy your friendship with a $2.54 gift?
One might say it's not the same but I say it's exactly the same. Once you get to $100 million or $150 million or $200 million, every million might as well be a penny. Especially when you've already raked in well over $100 million, as Albert has so far in his career.
You can't spend it in 10 lifetimes unless you're an idiot or Michael Jackson.
If you love St. Louis as you say you do, if you cherish your teammates as you claim, if you are comfortable with management as you insist, if you can win championships as you obviously can given 2006 and 2011 ... why not settle for a mere $200 million and emerge as the altruistic hero who sacrificed money for love?
Why sell yourself to the highest bidder and start all over again in a city where Mickey Mouse is king and baseball is a shoulder shrug?
As for the Cardinals, they eventually might be thanking their lucky stars that they didn't sign a 32-year-old man to a 10-year contract.
They now have a lot of money available to plug a lot of holes. Or they don't have to spend all that money as long as they have their typically solid 25-man roster ... and then they don't have to raise ticket prices for the self-appointed "greatest fans in baseball." Crazy thought, I know.
Had Albert Pujols continued to excel for a few years in St. Louis and then gradually faded as he aged, fans there would have forgiven him and kept applauding him for his past exploits.
Just look at Mark McGwire.
As his body broke down from all the 'roids he ingested over the years, Saint Looie fans still paid to see him take his hacks, still cheered every time his name was mentioned. After he retired, when pretty much everybody knew he had been a juicing cheat, Cardinal Nation stuck up for him. And when Tony La Russa brought him back to be the hitting coach after he had been exposed, all was forgiven. McLiar was treated like St. Louis royalty.
Believe me, he wouldn't have been forgiven so easily in southern California.
Maybe Albert figures that extra 50 million bucks will buy him a nice shield from any future scorn. Not to mention a few of the giraffes, zebras and unicorns that might still be grazing at Neverland Ranch.