He’s not gone, folks. He’s here for the entire 2011 season, at which point more negotiating will take place. Even if he does end up elsewhere next season, repeat after me, “It’s. Not. The. End. Of. The. World.” Personally, I like the Cardinals chances of getting an extension done once the season is over. But should that not happen, we will survive. Why? Glad you asked.
Albert’s been on the roster for 10 years, 2001-2010. During that time, we’ve won exactly one World Series championship, 2006. Ten minus one is nine. Nine’s the new six. Confused yet? Here’s what I’m getting at: Nine is a serious number!
We’ve had the best player in baseball for a decade, and 9 of those 10 years, a team not named the “St. Louis Cardinals” won the World Series. Giants-2010, Yankees-2009, Phillies-2008, Red Sox-2007, Cardinals-2006, White Sox-2005, Red Sox-2004, Marlins-2003, Angels-2002, D-Backs-2001. We had Albert in each of those years and only won the World Series once?! Inconthievable!
Nine also happens to be the number of World Series championships the Cardinals have won WITHOUT Albert Pujols. 1926, ‘31, ‘34, 42, ‘44, ‘46, ‘64, ‘67, ‘82–nine different occasions when the Cards won it all, without Albert on the roster. Granted, those eras were more focused on pitching, speed…etc, and this era is more based on power-hitting RBI hitmen like Pujols, but as I just said, 9 other teams got the hardware in the past 10 years.
Ready for another nine? How about these nine teams: A’s, Giants, Red Sox, Pirates, Padres, Bluejays, Diamondbacks, Mets, & Royals. That’s a list of where Cardinal favorites went after playing with the redbirds. “Who?” you ask? How about Willie McGee, Matt Morris, Ryan Ludwick, David Eckstein, and Joe McEwing. (In fairness, Super Joe did have 6 plate appearances, wearing the collar with two Ks for Houston to end his MLB career.)
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing that would make me happier than for Pujols to be a Cardinal for life. It goes without saying that I don’t want that if it’s going to handcuff the team & not allow ownership to put a competitive team around him. I would love to go to games for the next 10 years and watch him make history wearing the birds on the bat. I’m just trying to make a point about this whole circus. It’s not like we’ve won 10 straight titles because of him, or only won titles when he was on the roster. His presence certainly helps, but when the Phillies won the 2008 World Series, they did so by defeating the sub-$44M payroll Rays (who won 97 games that year, btw). It’s baseball…not golf or tennis, where one man IS the team…not basketball where one guy can carry the team (even Jordan needed Pippen).
It takes nine. Nine guys, working in concert together, under the direction of good manager, a good front office, and a good ownership group, to have success. One man does not a team make. Nine, however, will do the trick. Coincidentally enough, nine may also be the number of years required to make Albert put pen to the paper next offseason.
This article marks Dathan Brooks debut here on I-70 Baseball.
You can read more of Dathan’s work over at his blog, “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Night“