Unfortunately, at least in practice, I believe I'm in the minority. And it's things like the Pujols signing yesterday that shows me this. Now, before I write this out, let me preface it a bit. Pujols did nothing wrong. Was it the decision I would make? Well, I guess I don't know. I don't think I'll ever be in that sort of position, but I would like to think that I would have signed with St. Louis had I been in his shoes. Does that mean that's the only right decision? No, not at all. It's just a different way to live and look at life. It wouldn't be a debate if one side was unequivocally right.
All that said, business and sports make strange bedfellows. Sports is about celebrating the unexpected and reveling in the resultant emotions, whether they be of joy of victory or, as the saying goes, the agony of defeat. Business is almost the exact opposite. I believe that's why it feels so absolutely wrong when players, especially the blue chip guys, move because of money. It feels so against everything sport should be. And that is why Pujols leaving feels so absolutely wrong. It's slightly different, but LeBron's leaving Cleveland felt similar. Those reasons had more to do with sport than Pujols' decision, but they still went against what we expect from sport and the athletes that make it up. We want to believe our athletes, especially the great ones, are true sportsmen, not just gifted mercenaries. Albert has unfortunately joined that category.
There are times when players leave their teams and, while it is still a shame, nobody blames them for it. Kevin Garnett springs to mind. He had played his whole career with the Minnesota Timberwolves and had some success with them, but nothing too huge. From 1995 to 2007 (the Garnett Era), T-Wolves made the playoffs eight straight years. The team had never gone to the playoffs before Garnett got there, and haven't made it back since he left. But, for all those years in the playoffs, the team only got out of the first round once, which was a run to the Western Conference Finals in 2004 where they lost to the Lakers. The team started falling apart from there, and it was clear Garnett was never going to win in Minnesota. So, nobody really blinked when he jumped at the chance to play in Boston with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen through a bit of a sweetheart trade. It also was rewarding to see the trade work out and he finally got his ring.
Pujols was not leaving a Cardinal team in disarray. Yes, La Russa retired, but they just won the World Series, and if he signed, the core of the team would be back and quite possibly in better position than they were this year (which is kind of a scary thought). There was all sorts of goodwill around St. Louis with such an improbable run to a championship, it seemed impossible that the Cardinals wouldn't get a deal done. And by all accounts, they gave it as much as they possibly could. And here we are. I understand wanting the money, but you would think, as a sportsman, there would be some loyalty keeping you in St. Louis as long as it was at all feasible. Clearly, I am not Albert Pujols.
Like I said, Pujols did nothing wrong, but I'm not sure he did anything right. It seems very hard to believe Stan Musial would have made this decision, if you can remember the story about asking for a $20,000 pay cut because he didn't feel he played well enough to live up to his $100,000 contract, one of (if not the) richest at the time in baseball. Hell, even a journeyman like Gil Meche gave up $12,000,000 because he didn't feel he pitched well enough to deserve it.