Baseball purists will surely cringle if and when a respected team like the Cardinals lose their Superstar to the Cubs of all teams. As for me, it isn't my rivalry, isn't my team, but it would make for a good storyline.
The fun thing about writing articles like this is you can make a prediction and put it on paper, and then sit back and watch all the so-called experts clamor about how wrong you are and how dumb your predictions are.
But the funny thing is, they never put their own thoughts on the line to be equally criticized and offer no suggestions as to how the article could be improved or where a player like Pujols may go.
I, for one, want to see Pujols leave, because I want to see who the real Cardinals fans are.
What I mean by that is, those fans among their loyal base come up with excuses like, “He’s old,” “We’ll be okay, we’ve got a deep minor league system,” “Now we have money to get another guy” or “I trust General Manager John Mozeliak."
Plus, you know the ESPN talking heads who are in love with him and think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread will have months of rumors and speculation leading up to the season, drooling over matchups, how he fits with his new club, primetime games, the impact on his new club vs. the Cardinals.
So let’s look at where he could go. See my piece on Prince Fielder, as they are basically all the same teams. Whoever loses out on Fielder will go after Pujols and vice-versa.
Chicago Cubs: Unlike Fielder, who has multiple frontrunning suitors (that I also think could end up in Chicago, if Pujols stays), there really is only one favorite here: the Chicago Cubs.
Why the Cubs? The Cardinals and Cubs have a rivalry that ESPN likes to compare to the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. Basically, the NL version of such a rivalry, even if this is an insult to the overrated, over-hyped elitist Northeast rivalry.
This is all about writing baseball history, and if Pujols actually breaks 756, oops, I mean, 762* (yes that is an asterisk), what better storyline than to do it with the lovable losers from the North Side?
New owner Tom Ricketts foolishly re-branded his two-year tenure as owner like a calendar, starting over when he called his first year campaign of 2010, “Year One."
Yeah, right. As if we are supposed to forget for the past 102 years the team has been a walking excuse-maker, looking for a shoulder to cry on?
Like Red Sox fans, many of whom refuse to talk anything 1918-2004 (I’ve tried, only to be interrupted rudely as only New Englanders can do, therefore perpetuating the stereotype, right on cue), it's all about remembering those years that got you to this point, not childishly erasing or pretending to forget them. What better way to stick it to your No. 1 rival than to take their heart-and-soul player?
That is what I fully expect.
Some combination of:
New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
San Francisco Giants: What hitter wouldn’t want to play with that pitching, knowing you are in every single game each night?
The Real Dark Horses
Anyone other than that would shock me, but I hope it happens.
Baseball could really use Toronto stepping up, but I just don’t see it out of them. The Jays seem content to be waiting to get back into the playoffs when a second Wild Card is approved.
Imagine the Florida Marlins, looking for some buzz in the opening of their new stadium in 2012, signing this big fish (no pun intended).