Pujols being introduced to his new fans
If you haven’t heard, Albert Pujols just signed a deal to play for the Anaheim Angels (I can’t bring myself to write “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” because it’s a dumb name) for somewhere slightly north of a quarter-billion dollars (yes, with a B) over the next 10 years. That a man could get paid more than the GDP of a bunch of small countries to play a game bothers a lot of people.
That he would leave the St. Louis Cardinals also bothers a lot of people (who, as it turns out, are mostly fans of that proud franchise). I’m not a fan of either team, and have no particular allegiance to Pujols, so I offer these thoughts as a detached observer.
Should an athlete make that kind of money? I understand the complaint, but would you turn down the contract? Nobody would pay the man that kind of money if they didn’t think they would make that much or more by employing him (in terms of putting a winning product on the field, in terms of marketing and merchandising, and in terms of eyes on television sets and butts in stadium seats). It’s a free marketplace, and any one of us is worth whatever someone else is willing to pay, right? (And it should be noted that Pujols, by all accounts a genuine believer, is very generous with his truckloads of money).
Was Albert Pujols disloyal? or… Did Albert Pujols owe St. Louis anything? The cries of loyalty are not uncommon in sports. I remember hearing the same thing when Tom Glavine, the legendary Braves pitcher, signed a deal with the hated Mets (talk about a deal with the devil!). Sports fans (think about the etymology of the term “fan” — a shortened form of “fanatic”) react to these issues in an emotional way because they have a (sometimes deep) emotional investment in their team.
Pujols in days gone by.
That’s understandable. But let’s think about this. What if you were offered a job with another company or firm in your industry – a good, upwardly mobile company, with some long term advantages (the designated hitter role in the American League makes a lot of sense for an aging Albert Pujols in the back half of that contract). Imagine that job also came with a salary that was 25% higher than what you’d make with your present employer. Sure you’d have to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of relocating and all of that. But… would you blame someone for taking that job?
Maybe a story like this gives us an opportunity to step back and consider how emotionally invested we allow ourselves to get with our favorite teams. There’s a line in the movie “Fever Pitch” (about a crazed Red Sox fan) where a kid asks the main character something like this: “You love the Red Sox and give everything for them. But do they love you back?” The answer is obvious.
This year, more than ever, has presented us with a number of cautionary tales that remind us not to put too much of our stock into these teams, programs, and players (and coaches). They’ll let us down. (Yes, even Tim Tebow is human.) Only One person is worthy of our praise, and the good news is He won’t let us down, won’t dessert us for a better offer or more money (He doesn’t need it), and definitely loves us back (because He loved us first).