Albert Pujols: Always a Cardinal?

JJ GilliamContributor IDecember 26, 2008

Welcome to the machine. I can think of no better way to introduce myself than by asking for a miracle. It is the holiday season, right?

As a fanatic Cardinals devotee, six months out of the year belong to the Birds on the Bat. My wife understands it, and she has even become passionate about "our" team. But all of this could change in a few short years.

Albert Pujols is St. Louis baseball, much like Jack Buck and Stan the Man. He continues to amaze everyone in the game and will get paid for it very soon. The question is where will the money come from?

Hometown discounts rarely exist anymore, and the CC/Tex show proved that even going back to your roots can be bought-out by the dollar sign. What's to say that Boston won't offer Pujols $300 million in free agency?

My hope is that Pujols and the Cards never reach that point. Whether it is a 10-year, $250 million starting point in spring training or next season, St. Louis can not afford (no pun intended) to let the franchise player see a way out.

I would present Mr. Pujols a blank check and tell him to fill in the rest. Forget a key to the city, how bout the keys to the team jet? You need four suites for the All-Star game Big Al—here you go, enjoy the party!

The point is that every team in the game wants a shot at signing Pujols. Even the Yankees could justify things by moving Tex to third, A-Rod to short, and Jeter to second. Unless you root for the Evil Empire, that has to make you cringe.

The only thing worse in my opinion is seeing Albert wearing blue. Not Dodger blue but a couple of other teams. I would turn in my baseball fandom card if the Baby Bears were able to get Pujols up the I-55. And who is to say Albert wouldn't want the chance of hitting massive amounts of baseballs out of Wrigley Field?

But even Pujols playing in Chicago can not compare with the worst possible outcome. Every Cards fan knows deep down the hatred felt for the Kansas City Royals. While I was only six years old in 1985, the fire still burns for the stolen World Series.

If Pujols was compelled to help out any team, why not his hometown KC club? This is something the entire state of Missouri would be talking about for years, if not decades. I couldn't find fault in his decision, because it would mean the Cardinals didn't do what's right by No. 5.

St. Louis is at a crossroads as a team, and the only way to take control of the situation is to lock up the MVP for the rest of his career. Because if playing in pain everyday isn't good enough for the Cardinals, the AP show will go somewhere else. And that would be the end of many great things, namely the Cardinals as a baseball tradition.