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Sometimes our heroes will let us down

Posted Monday, December 12, 2011, at 2:27 PM

I swore I wouldn't watch. I just wasn't ready to see Albert in his new jersey with his new "family." I thought it would be a lot like running into your ex-wife with her new guy for the first time. It's just weird.

Sunday morning before church I flipped by the MLB Network and they were re-playing the press conference I refused to watch. I caved in and watched it.

The funny thing is, he didn't give the impression I thought he would. He wasn't bubbling and excited like I expected. He seemed quite awkward; sort of like I would look in a suit.

After the press conference he answered questions from reporters about the move and why he decided to leave St. Louis. He said it was about "commitment" and that basically the Cardinals weren't committed to keeping him. Monday morning Albert's wife in an interview with a St. Louis Christian radio station referred to a postseason 5-year/$130 contract as an "insult."

I think I understand what she was meaning, but $25 million per season is not an insult. He just signed a 10 year deal for the same annual money. That annual money, believed to be the hang up in the 9-year/$198 million offer before the season, was believed by the team to be only manageable in a shorter contract than Pujols was after.

When the five year offer was rejected, a turn around 10-year offer was reportedly made at a lower average annual value of $22 million per season. Is that not commitment? No, it's not as much money as the Angels threw out, but 10 years is a commitment in baseball. That's a commitment only a very small handful of players have ever, or likely will ever, see. The fact is, if a decade long commitment isn't enough, it can only be about one thing: money.

After seeing them talk, I do genuinely believe they both feel hurt by the process, but that alone doesn't explain the move unless they have less forethought than I've given them credit for. The Cardinals and Albert were married for 11 glorious years. Just because you have a disagreement with your spouse doesn't mean you rush out and get a divorce. You take time to let things cool off and then try to remember why you loved each other to begin with. I still believe it's possible that if they had taken a week or so to cool off instead of rushing into that decision in 24 hours, they would have possibly found the common ground they were hoping for. Sadly, that will never be the case.

The one thing I wish superstars could remember is that yes, those businessmen cut their checks, but it's guys like you, myself and my friends who pay the owner's salary. We're the guys making piddly salaries and still finding a way to buy a $150 AP jersey, t-shirt, bobblehead, baseball card, posters, books, autographs and high-priced tickets. It's people like us who are unable to go to games as often as we'd like to because of superstar salaries forcing up the cost of a ticket.

The businessmen haven't been let down. The superstars aren't being let down. Albert isn't being let down. The three million of us who pack Busch Stadium every season and pay $30 to park our car are the ones being let down. The ones who love their team unconditionally, who want nothing more than a slight hope for a pennant to pull them through the season are the ones who are sad today. The young boys just learning to love the sport who don't understand why they can't watch their hero anymore. The fact is, sometimes in the real world our heroes let us down. It doesn't make them bad, it makes them human.

We'll likely never know who was right or wrong in this deal, but we do know that those people I've been talking about feel hurt. Right now, they're angry and behaving in ways St. Louis fans are not known for. Eventually that will subside and all of this will be behind us. I hope it's soon. I'm ready for baseball to feel like a game again.

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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