Vaya con Dios, Palbert, Part I

You'd think someone with a head as big as mine would be able to easily wrap it around what just happened. As it is, however, there's too much guacamole for this tortilla* right now.

I don't know how to textually convey what goes through this massive noggin o'mine at the mention of one Jose Alberto Pujols Alcantara, hereafter referred to as Palbert**.

Don't let the smile fool you - this hombre can get fearless in a hurry

It feels a bit like the stages of grief - anger, denial, sadness, acceptance - but even now, a day later, there's still a quasi-palpable feeling of "This can't be happening."

I'm not sure I can create a cohesive reflection on this earth-shattering*** saga. So instead let's see what kind of stew we can make with the hodgepodge, the mishmash, the gallimaufry, if you will, of my thoughts.

It basically all began back during Spring Training this year****, when the Cardinals failed to come up with a contract offer sufficient enough to keep Palbert around after the 2011 season. Their deadline was only as long as the pre-season, since Palbert said "No contract negotiations once the season starts." Sure enough, in a transpiring meant solely to give me indigestion for the next six months, both sides failed to make a deal. The Cards wouldn't budge from their nine-year offer (Palbert reportedly wanted 10 years) and Palbert apparently wanted to at least think about what might be behind Door #2.

Flash forward to November. Fresh off a ridiculous, uncanny and unprecedentedly thrilling World Series win, Cardinals fans thought nothing could pop that balloon. Surely after what the team had done in the face of unspeakably impossible odds, Palbert would want to keep the magic going. So what if Tony LaRussa retires and his seat taken by someone who, though beloved by Cardinal Nation, has no pro managing experience? Palbert had said he wanted to be a Cardinal forever, so no problem, right?

Then the silence began. No whispers of negotiations. No hints of negotiations. Bupkus. Worry, that same anxiety from the unresolved Spring Training dilemma, started to creep back in. "But that's okay," I rationalized, "no one is really doing anything. It means nothing."

Jump to December. Winter Meetings: the time when MLB general managers meet and free agency***** becomes the hot topic. The rumors start: the freshly-remonikered Miami Marlins might be making a play for Palbert. They've got a new stadium, a lot of new virtual revenue to spend and a need for some revitalization.


Surely Palbert wouldn't choose southern Florida over St. Louis, where he started his career, where he wants to finish his career, where he's just a few hours from his hometown of Independence, MO. But word came out that Miami's offer was a juicy one: 10 years, in the ballpark of $200 million, provisions ensuring Palbert as the face of the franchise even after retirement.

Again, worry. But again, rationalization: He'd rather stay in St. Louis, the Cardinals can come up with $200M, they can tack on another year for Palbert, a three-time MVP with the team. When Palbert didn't accept right away, the hope grew. Sure enough, days later when still no announcement was made, Miami moved on to other fish and word got out the Cardinals had something like a 10-year, $220M offer to their masthead.

Look for a story to this photo at a later date.

That's enough, right? With Miami gone, the Cards are the frontrunners, right? Yeah, there was something about the Cubs maybe wanting to get in on the bidding, but that's dead in the water, right?******

Skip to Thursday morning. My Thursday morning, which starts at the literal beginning of morning: midnight. All the pundits******* were saying St. Louis was looking good, it's likely Palbert will stick around.

...Record scratch...

But what's this? The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are making a move? What kind of move"? Is it enough to woo The Machine? Enough to do what millions hopes was impossible and get Palbert out of a Cardinals uniform? Uncertainty ensues. But I go home from work, reasonably sure that things will turn out alright All will be well.

It has to be.

STAY TUNED FOR PART II COMING ___(insert date/time here)_____

*What the heck am I talking about?
**A nickname I made up for Albert which may or may not have been taken from a well-known flash-animated website.
***Meant to be taken literally. I felt some shaking. Though it could have been rage. Or hunger.
****Arguably (and in my opinion) it started much earlier when the Cardinals seemingly didn't look ahead enough to see this contract renewal issue coming. They should have locked Palbert down one or two years ago, not the year his contract expires.
*****Not in the Latter-day Saint sense; more in the "I can sign with whomever I want and no one can stop me" sense.
******Come on, it's the Cubs. No one likes them, no one wants to play for them, and they'll never have a chance at anything.
*******What a stupid word.


Popular Posts