Friday, December 9, 2011

Albert Pujols heads to LA and a lot of things will change

“If you were worried ‘bout where I been or who I saw, or what club I went to with my homies baby don’t worry you know that you got me.”

Lyric from: You Got Me from the album Things Fall Apart
Written By: ?uestlove, Tariq Trotter, Jill Scott and Scott Storch
Performed by: The Roots featuring Erykah Badu

A few years ago I was chatting with a friend who was considering accepting a job offer that would require him to move his family from San Diego to Los Angeles. During our discussion he covered the pros and cons of the move. The cons dominated. He closed out his list of minuses with an interesting little nugget of information-he had just read somewhere that the probability of he and his wife getting a divorce would go up exponentially with a move to La La land.
Yesterday, Albert Pujols accepted a 10-year, $254 million offer from the Los Angeles Angels after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals just 2 months ago. My best guess is that Pujols gave little thought to the likelihood of divorce as he pondered the move. I wonder, however, if his wife, Deidre, considered it.
Not very long after LeBron James used an hour of ESPN’s time to announce to us all that he had decided to take his talents to South Beach, I remember reading an article that quoted his longtime girlfriend as saying she wasn’t particularly happy about moving to Miami. And I remember exactly what I thought when I read that…I remember thinking that a move to a city like that with a nightlife like that and droves of beautiful women like that might be a bit intimidating for a young woman who was managing a relationship and a family with a rich, high profile athlete. Sure, LeBron had been a rich, high profile athlete in Cleveland, that much was always a factor.  But let’s face it, Cleveland ain’t Miami.
And St. Louis ain’t Los Angeles. Which brings us back to yesterday’s big announcement. The St. Louis Cardinals had reportedly offered Pujols a contract that all but guaranteed that he would be a lifelong Cardinal-10 years, $200 million. Pujols held out for more and 72 hours ago the Angels decided to jump in head first with an offer that would secure their victory in the Pujols sweepstakes.
It would be terribly wreck less of me to think that the increase in the probability of divorce was top of mind for Mrs. Pujols as she discussed this transition with her husband. But I am curious as to what input she offered and how much it weighed in the decision.
As my buddy I mentioned above was mulling over his intra-Southern Californian relocation, his wife’s input was primarily focused on the quality of life for their young children and what it would mean to separate their son and daughter from the friends that they loved, the schools they enjoyed, the neighborhood in which they felt safe and the doctors with whom they had finally let down their guards. Being wealthy may make the best of these options-schools, neighborhoods and doctors- more easily accessible to the Pujols clan, but it doesn’t make the task of building a new life any less stressful.  
And then there’s the money. My dear friend just didn’t think his increase was enough to warrant a significant life change and, his wife agreed. No, his offer wasn’t for $54 million more but it was a lot for a mere mortal and it wasn’t enough. It’s hard to speculate as to how much the money means to Pujols or his wife though most of us mere mortals can’t imagine a good reason for turning down $54 million.
One non-family life related sticking point that my friend’s wife brought up in their deliberations was the wonderful relationship he had built with his boss over the years. That relationship was invaluable she said. If Deidre Pujols was hoping to make the case for an extended stay in St. Louis, the latter was not a card that she could play.
Over the last 24 hours, I’ve heard many a sports reporter say if Cardinals fans are looking for someone to blame in the loss of Pujols that they need not look any farther than Cardinals ownership. There is a sentiment out there that they did not do enough to fend off suitors and lock down their superstar as negotiations dragged out over two years. Tony La Russa stepped down as Cardinals manager on October 31, announcing that he would retire. In reaction to La Russa’s retirement, Albert Pujols said that La Russa had been like a father to him. For all the efforts Cardinals ownership may have made up to that point to get a deal done, that Halloween declaration likely signaled that they were having to start over, with different odds.
And so Albert Pujols has decided to take his talents to Southern California next season and for nine additional seasons thereafter. La Russa’s departure likely made him available and no amount of concern over friends, schools, neighborhoods, doctors, next-level groupies or the higher probability for divorce would be enough to make him stay.