Pujols_Gamble

The Pujols Gamble: Remember The Green

Right after I graduated from college, I moved to Nashville TN.

Considering I had no job, and not really a prospect for one, the only logical thing to do was rent a nice loft downtown, right? For the most part, my roommate and I managed to come up with the rent. Some months we had to resort to fairly extreme measures to do so (spaghetti 30 straight days for lunch AND dinner anyone?), but our oddball slash BS jobs covered us.

Towards the end, right after a trip back to STL for Thanksgiving, we realized that we were going to be about 500 dollars short that month and we’d pretty much tapped out every resource we had (selling clothes, opening credit cards, etc al) – so we got in a car and drove 2 hours to the nearest casino.

500 dollars. One bet. On black.

If we made it, we’d leave and pay rent. If we didn’t? Well, we didn’t really think like that back in the day.

I remember pulling up to the casino and not having a good feeling. It had just begun to snow and it was about 1a on a Tuesday night. I made my roommate make the actual bet while I sat at the bar and drank a glass of water. The whole deal might have taken a minute, if that, but it felt like a freaking eternity.

When the roommate walked passed, he said nothing. I followed him out the door.

“Fucking green.”

Indeed, fucking green. It had cost us literally everything we had. Coupled with the snowstorm we had to drive through to get back to Nashville (5 hours of driving) and I can honestly say that was one of the lower points in my life. We figured something out and made rent. Since that day, it actually hasn’t been a problem getting the bills paid. But that one spin actually taught me a very valuable lesson…

There is no such thing as just black or red. There’s some green when you least expect it.

———-

Albert Pujols is the greatest baseball player I’ve ever seen. Honestly, it’s not even close. For 1/3 of my life, the dude has been the alpha and omega of my spring, summer and sometimes fall. And when he showed up for spring training without the richest contract in the history of baseball, I was pissed.

I knew that this sort of ‘dark cloud’ was going to hang over everything the Cardinals did in 2011. Win Game 7 of the World Series with a bases loaded grand slam in the bottom of the 9th? The second question to Pujols after getting the championship would be something about being a free agent.

It was going to be the epitaph of this team, written before the season started.

But as the first two months of the season ticked past, Pujols showed for the first time a vulnerability that was disconcerting. The strike zone expanded. The double plays were maddening. The lack of slugging was unfathomable. I started to question if the Cardinals actually made a shrewed business move… hell, I thought maybe the guy was one of the rare ones that just fell off the cliff and couldn’t return. (Not real seriously, but still.)

The past 3 weeks, the old Albert started to emerge. Back to back walk off HR’s against the Cubs jump-started Albert’s season and all of a sudden he was going to be .290-.295/21/70 at the All-Star Break and deserving of his starting nod.

Sunday, Albert Pujols suffered his first major injury of his career.

It looked bad when Pujols was rolling around on the ground and taken out of the game and MRI’s on Monday confirmed that is was bad. Albert has fractured his wrist/forearm area and is now in a cast for 4 weeks before beginning a rehab assignment and trying to come back to the team in August.

While his absence in the Cardinals lineup is sure to be missed in the short term, the injury brings a whole new shade of color to the table…

Green.

———-

The Cardinals, like all other teams, are going to have to determine either the biggest or second biggest contract in baseball history based on a 2011 that was nothing like any other season Albert Pujols has ever had.

He had never slumped. He had never been shelved for an extended period of time.

What does this mean? Will he ever be the same? Is it wise to invest so heavily into a guy (sans the steroid era) that should be peaking or just peaked, but wants 8-10 more years of payment? Do the Cardinals owe it to him? To us?

It’s easy to make the call in 2013 or 2015 – we’ll have tangible answers by then. And possibly sooner. But at this very moment in time, everyone is wondering what the hell is going to happen – including Albert Pujols.

I’m here to say that I don’t know.

Insightful? Not exactly. But I can say that I’ve been there and the one thing I know for absolute certain is that it sucks being in the position having to make that decision.

It’s enough to make you green.

athooks

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