Many baseball fans in the St. Louis area are either sad, upset and/or disappointed after hearing news this morning about Albert Pujols signing a 10-year, $255 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. To them, I say, “Not to worry! The folks in the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals made a wise move when they allowed the Hall of Famer to sign with another team.”
Perhaps, an explanation is in order, so here goes it: The average length of a Major League Baseball player’s career is 5.6 years, according to Science Daily. Using that as a guide, Pujols — who has 11 seasons under his belt in St. Louis — has lasted almost twice as long as the average player. By letting another sign “The Machine,” the Cardinals will be able to sign numerous talented players without being burdened by a contract that’s almost guaranteed to turn sour (i.e., Pujols will get hurt and/or wear out).
FYI: If anyone from the Cardinals’ front office is reading this, please know that I’m willing to play any position for a fraction of what you were willing to pay Pujols. Also, my high school son drew the graphic above two years ago at age 13.
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Major League Baseball lost me as a “rabid” fan after a 1981 strike caused the cancellation of 713 games. I simply could not rationalize how players could complain about the compensation they were receiving when they were earning six-, seven- and eight-figure salaries — not to mention product endorsements and other perks — for playing a game. Today, the National Football League is on the verge of losing me as an already-lukewarm fan.
According to a report in the Boston Herald this morning, the NFL’s future is fourth-and-long, and “football Armageddon” is here: Negotiations between the league and the players union ended Friday with the union being decertified; several marquee players — including the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning, the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady and the New Orleans Saints Drew Brees — are said to be filing lawsuits against the league; and, oh yes, the players have been “locked out” by the owners.
Perhaps the most-important line in the story is this one: The negotiations came down to money, and trust.
The writer of the above-mentioned article was, of course, referring to issues of money and trust involving players and owners. Sadly, he failed to mention in his article anything about pro football fans — you know, the people who buy NFL merchandise, game tickets, etc. — and the bad economy that’s resulted in many of them losing their jobs and homes.
I’ve never attended a regular-season game in person, purchased NFL merchandise or subscribed to a cable television package of league games. The highway-robbery pricing of such items has always turned me off. Still, I’ve spent several hours each week watching “regular” cable and network broadcasts of games.
If, as some expect it might be, the NFL season is canceled, I will probably stop paying attention to pro football altogether. After all, college football is much more entertaining and the NFL, a $9 billion-a-year enterprise, will probably not miss me.
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BREAKING NEWS ITEM #1: President Barack Obama has been named the 2009 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” despite the fact that the deadline for submitting nominations for the once-prestigious award was only 12 days into the 44th president’s term.
BREAKING NEWS ITEM #2: President Obama has been named the winner of both the American and National League Cy Young Awards for 2009, despite the fact that many said “he throw like a girl and wears mom jeans” when he threw out the first pitch of the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game held in St. Louis [Source: Mark Reardon, KMOX 1120 AM radio talk show host].
What a morning!
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Only a year after she was banned from a minor league ballpark, “One-Sheet” Sheryl Crow will be the official musical entertainer at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Charity Concert in downtown St. Louis July 11, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today.
Rumor has it that, as part of her contract, Missouri native Crow is requiring local officials to limit concertgoers to one square of toilet paper during visits to the portable toilets that will be stationed around the venue.
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UPDATE 6/24/09 at 4:16 p.m. Central: See “Did Sheryl Crow Post Comment on My Blog?“
Basketball is the first sport that comes to mind when I think about Barack Obama. In reality, the Democratic Party presidential nominee probably has more in common with a Major League Baseball team that’s making a lot of news these days.
Don’t believe me? Consider these facts:
- Based on his voting record for the year, Obama earned the distinction of being named the nation’s “most liberal senator in 2007″ by the nonpartisan National Journal. Today, the Democratic Party presidential nominee stands on the precipice of being elected president of United States and becoming de facto leader of the Free World. To win, he needs only win once — in the general election Nov. 4.
- Based on their win-loss record for the year, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays earned the distinction of being named the worst team in the league for 2007. Today, the Tampa Bay Rays — now sans “Devil” — stand only four wins away from being named World Champions. To win the World Series, the Rays need only win four games of a best-of-seven series.
The difference: If Obama wins the general election Nov. 4, this election will be recorded in the history books as a tale of a candidate going from “worst to first” without even having to change his devilish name to do it.
Mark Tolbert shared a great story with me and a few hundred of my closest friends today, and I felt like sharing it with you.
As a 16-year-old growing up in Atlanta, Mark explained, he had held a dream job — bat boy during the 1967 season at Atlanta’s old Fulton County Stadium. Instead of serving players on the Atlanta Braves side of the diamond, however, he worked in the visiting team’s dugout and served every other Major League Baseball team that came to play his Braves. In other words, he rubbed elbows with all of the game’s greatest players of the day. Surprisingly, he said the job wasn’t all sunshine and Cracker Jacks®.
After each home game, Mark said, he would return to the visitor’s clubhouse, shed his facsimile of a ballplayer’s uniform and don the all-white uniform befitting his less-glamorous post-game duties as a “clubby.”
Unlike a bat boy who deals in hats, bats, helmets and the other tools of the baseball trade, Mark said, a “clubby” — the name players gave guys like him – was responsible for picking up the wet towels, sweaty underwear, stinky socks and other items 35 grown men could leave on the clubhouse floor. After picking them up, he would wash and dry them and hang them back in the lockers, ready for the next game.
Why did Mark do the “clubby” duties without complaint? Because, he said, he knew at least 10,000 other 16 year old boys were waiting in the wings, ready to fill his shoes at the drop of a hat.
Was the job worth it? Ask him today, and he’ll say it was — and he’ll follow up by telling you the story of the day when he showed up at the ballpark without his cleats. Hint: This is where the story gets good!
Hoping to find a pair he could borrow, Mark said he walked through the tunnel to the home team’s clubhouse and asked his bat boy counterpart if he could borrow a pair. Unfortunately, the spare shoes he had to loan were too small — size 8.
“I can’t possibly wear them,” Mark said he told his colleague. “I’m a size 10.”
Just then, Mark recalled, he heard a voice from behind him say, “I have a pair you can borrow.”
Turning around, Mark found Hank Aaron — the man who, six years later, would set a new major league record for home runs in a career — standing there, holding out a pair of size 10 shoes for him to wear that day.
Now Dr. Mark Tolbert, he ended his story, injected into a sermon on servanthood he delivered at my church, saying, “At least for one day, I was able to fill Hank Aaron’s shoes.”