PARK POINT… Well, baseball fans, it’s done: the first major and idiotic contract of the free agent season has been signed, sealed, and delivered. The former St. Louis Cardinal first baseman Albert Pujols has signed a whopper with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I still hate that name—either you are the Los Angeles Angels or the Anaheim Angels, make up your alleged minds) at $254 mil for 10 years. Yup. That’s a lot of happy meals, friends. At Albert’s restaurant in St. Louis, where he recently had a statue of himself christened post-World Series victory, they now have a security guard watching over it around the clock. 

So, as always, the first question is, who won the deal and who lost? In this scenario, whereby you have a player switching leagues, you could say the analysis gets a bit more dicey, but ahhhhh, not really in my book. First, the losers, the Angels, of wherever they are from, are obtaining the services of one of if not the best player in MLB over the past ten seasons. Great bat, great glove, no argument. I believe that Pujols’ presence on their roster will open up a 2-4 season window of opportunity for the club to do well and compete for a possible championship, provided they put a good roster around him.  

After that, I think this contract burdens the Angels more than it might help them. After four more seasons Pujols will be 36 years old. He has had some minor injuries from time to time and he is a big man, so you have to wonder if father time will start creeping in around that timeframe. And that’s when the excuse makers for this contract start chiming in. Well, they will say, if his fielding diminishes, we can DH him. OK. I get that. Do you really want to pay $25 mil per season for a guy to DH, though? Sorry, not on my team. Not ever. Yes, I want to win, but it’s still a business, right? 

For the Cards, they made Pujols some pretty decent offers to stay, and he declined all of them. In losing Pujols, the Cards may have to make a move to play some short ball. They are going to lose about 30 homeruns per year. However, neither are they going to be burdened with a contract under which the player may only be able to perform to his historical stats for half of the contract’s term. I think the Cards are a strong enough club to make the short-term adjustments without suffering the long-term impact of this contractual lunacy. Cards are long-term winners, Angels of wherever, LTL.

Finally, I am not upset that Pujols got this kind of money or took it. As a guy told me a long time ago, when star athletes get this kind of contract, it is because they are amongst a very small group of people on the planet who can do what they do, and what they get must be the going rate. I am miffed at Pujols and his wife, though. Albert has stated that for going on two years, he has felt indifferent toward the Cards because they haven’t got a deal done knowing that this day was coming. Well, Big Al, you turned down all of their offers, so that’s a bunch of hooey. His wife put foot firmly in mouth when she stated that upset Cards fans don’t understand, that some money in the Cards’ offer was “deferred.” Hmmmm. Let’s see, but you were still going to get all of their generous offer, right? Just not at the pace you wanted? So jeez, there was no other way this could end up in the Gateway City, was there. Some big dummy with lots of money steps up to the plate for Big Al, and the Pujols camp feigns some acrimony as the reason for leaving on their end. Does this mean you really wanted to stay, Al? You are apparently no poker player, businessman, or negotiator. Adios, amigos… 

UP AT THE PEG’… The Wild—make that the NHL leading Minnesota Wild—are up in Winnipeg tonight to face the Jets. This game will mark the first time since 1993 that an NHL hockey club from Minnesota has played a regular season tilt up on the frozen tundra north of the North Star State. The Jets, as they did in the second half of the season last year in Atlanta, have struggled, but have been playing better in the past five weeks, going 8-3-1 in their last twelve. The Wild are riding a seven-game winning streak, and will entertain the Blackhawk in St. Paul Wednesday eve. 

The Wild have excelled by playing simple positional hockey with opportunistic offense, excellent goaltending, and massive shot blocking. I ask you, does this club miss Brent Burns and Martin Havlat? Want the answer? Do ya? PEACE

MFAN SPORT SHORTS: For the second consecutive week, the UMD Bulldog men’s hockey club is ranked first, and right behind them at second are the Golden Gophers. I think this is fantastic for hockey in this state and speaks very well for the efforts of all involved in hockey at every level in the State of Hockey. Well done!! 



(HOME team in CAPS)

ATL  over Jax

T-BAY over Boys’

Cincy over StL

BUFF over Miami

NYG over Wash

Tenn over INDY

BEAR over Seattle

Cheese over CHEFS

HOUS over Caro

Saint over VIKES

OAK over Lion

CARDS over brownies

PHILLY over j-e-t-s

Pats over DEN

SAN FRAN over Pitt

Balt over San-D

LAST WEEK: 11-6 – SEASON: 136-72

Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County Chronicle for the past ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710 AM in Duluth.