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Albert The Man, The Myth, The Legend is Gone? Where Does This Leave His Brand?

Blake Fehl
in uncategorized

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The day many Cardinals fans have feared over the past few years has finally come to pass. Their star of the past 11 years, Albert Pujols, has left for the greener pastures of Hollywood, and a contract north of $250 million dollars.  It was hard to be on social networks like Twitter and Facebook yesterday because the majority of the feed was filled with items about Pujols. The reactions were strong (at times too strong), and the emotions transitioned throughout the day from shock to anger, and eventually to grief.

There are many markets in the US that don’t understand why a ball player is so important to a city like St. Louis. Being a major hockey (and Blues) fan, the fervor which St. Louis residents talk about baseball can be annoying when they tend to largely ignore my favorite sport. However, as an American it is hard to not romanticize baseball to a degree. Baseball is as American as apple pies, and St. Louis is steeped in so much baseball history it almost manifests itself as a thing of pride within residents of St. Louis. This is a town that has had a world class baseball team for over 100 years, and lays claim to greats like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, and until yesterday Albert Pujols.

Many here saw Albert as the new age incarnation of Stan the Man, a player pivotal to the game, who not only put up impressive numbers, but did it all while wearing one team name on his jersey. Albert himself assured fans he wanted to assume this role, and that there was more to the game than money. However, these notions came to a screeching halt yesterday as Albert left St. Louis for a bigger contract. There aren’t a lot of people who thought it would come to this. Despite having very high attendance, and one of the broader fan bases in baseball, St. Louis is still very much a smaller to mid market team, and isn’t able to put up the kind of cash teams on the highly populated coasts can. The Cardinal’s offer of $210 million+ (or rumored top offer of $220 million) was said to be an over-extension of the Cardinal’s finances.

We can say at the minimum Pujols will be collecting an extra $30 million over the next ten years. However, when you factor in cost of living and taxes in California vs. Missouri, the two numbers are much closer than anticipated. However, many people forget that Albert will most likely have many more endorsement opportunities in Los Angeles than he ever had in St. Louis. In the long run Albert might actually make much more money than people are anticipating. However, that doesn’t mean this move wasn’t without risk.

Potential failures of moving:

This is very much a time will tell deal. If the Cardinals have a good season without Albert next year, many of his fans will forget their new found animosity.  While if he has a banner year in Anaheim, he might gain even more respect throughout the baseball community as someone who can lead a team through skill and action.  Needless to say, we wish he would’ve stayed, but baseball was popular in St. Louis long before Pujols came, and likely it will stay that way.
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