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Monday, December 19, 2011

Pujols departure his choice, but not a question of respect

One of the things that can happen to any of us is that, when things in our life seem to go really well, we can feel a bit “heady”.

It’s that sense that we’re on top of things, maybe even on top of the world.  We may feel we can do or say what we want and damn the consequences.  Some may even believe there won’t be consequences.

Sports fans may be aware that baseball star Albert Pujols recently signed a 10-year, 250 plus million dollar contract with the Anaheim Angels.  He decided to leave the franchise (St. Louis) where he was loved by the organization, teammates and fans and helped the team win two World Series championships.

He had already earned in his career millions more than most people would ever earn in their entire life—in the best dreams.  But he decided to leave St. Louis anyway, a city considered one of the most fan-friendly baseball markets in America.

The interesting twist to the “story” is that Pujols’ wife apparently felt it necessary to publicly explain why the family made the decision that it did.  Unfortunately, the explanation has left some observers puzzled, and feeling as though Albert may need what some call a “reality check”.

Here is an excerpt from the recent story published on ESPN.com

"The offer that people have seen on television I want to tell you what, listeners especially, had that offer been given to us with a guarantee, we would have the (Cardinals) bird on our back," Deidre Pujols told 99.1 Joy FM, a St. Louis-area Christian station that received some of its initial funding from Albert Pujols.

Deidre Pujols, speaking with interviewer Sandi Brown, who is her friend, said the couple initially had no plans to ever leave St. Louis or the Cardinals, the only team the first baseman had ever played for.

"When it all came down, I was mad. I was mad at God because I felt like all the signs that had been played out through the baseball field, our foundation, our restaurant, the Down Syndrome Center, my relationships, my home, my family close," Deidre Pujols told the station. "I mean, we had no reason, not one reason, to want to leave. People were deceived by the numbers."

She indicated the key moment was the Cardinals' initial offer of five years and $130 million.
"When you have somebody say 'We want you to be a Cardinal for life' and only offer you a five-year deal, it kind of confused us," Deidre Pujols said. "Well, we got over that insult and felt like Albert had given so much of himself to baseball and into the community ... we didn't want to go through this again."

That Pujols, at the age of 32 still a very talented professional, to be sure, felt a five year contract offer (worth well over 100 million dollars) was “an insult” is seemingly a perplexing comment.

It’s hard to imagine the millions of people in the United States and around the world who are out of work, or working in difficult conditions and drawing a modest annual income or taking on two jobs two stay above the poverty level, won’t find those comments alarming and self-centered, not to mention out of touch.

In particular, it is perhaps ironic that Pujols', who has clearly "done good" in the St. Louis community, in the same breath seems to set himself apart as, at the very least, being on a different level than the everyday people he apparently aids through his charitable endeavours.  If he feels  "insulted" by a 130 million dollar offer because it is not enough, what is the message for those youngsters- and their families- who are truly disadvantaged?

But this is the age of celebrity, and as I mentioned earlier, when things go well, people feel pretty special, and things get “heady”.

No doubt Pujols has done some important charitable things in St. Louis and will continue to do so in Anaheim.  But it may now be difficult for many to see him in the same light he was seen in before these comments were made.

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