In 2009, U.S. News and World Report estimated there are 27 million general managers across all professional sports in the U.S., men (and women), who make a regular practice of assessing player talent, drafting said talent, and forming long-term strategies for their respective teams.
Of course, these are fantasy GMs but the point is made—the casual fan is a dying breed, and it is probably fair to say that Roger Goodell, Gary Bettman, David Stern, and Bud Selig would have it no other way. Interest in professional sports is higher than ever.
In that context, what a time to be a real GM in the globally-connected, instant-news, media-drenched world we live in, making real contract decisions with real implications for their organizations and fan base. A good draft sets your team up for the next five years. A bad contract assures your team is handcuffed, financially, for a decade.
No pressure, right?
The St. Louis Cardinals received a lot of criticism from analysts, columnists and baseball fans from all parts of the globe (and certainly from their own fan base) for how the historic Albert Pujols Free Agency Summit of 2011 went down.
Exactly how could they let a first ballot Hall-of-Famer walk away?
More to the point, how did the Cardinals even let things get to that point in first place? Some said the club should have re-signed him long ago, even before Ryan Howard signed his (still awful) 5-year $125 million extension with the Phillies.
Not one Pujols skeptic will lie to you and say they saw this coming—El Hombre batting .196 with just seven runs batted in the first 28 games for the Los Angeles Angels—but that doesn't mean there were not already many reasons for the Cardinals to say "adios" to their former cornerstone player.
Here are just ten of those reasons.