Home > Sports > Between The Albert Pujols Contract And The Chris Paul Trade, What The Hell Is Going On In Sports Right Now?

Between The Albert Pujols Contract And The Chris Paul Trade, What The Hell Is Going On In Sports Right Now?

I hadn’t really planned on commenting on the Albert Pujols contract signing in baseball or the Chris Paul non-trade in basketball.  That was until I stewed on it a little more and it made me feel like I wanted to rant.  Since I am a ranter after all, I figured it was worth discussing.

The last couple of days more than anything has made me question the sanity of some of the people in pro sports.  When it comes to multi-billion dollar industries like professional sports, you’re bound to see a lot of 1) people with a lot of money throwing that money around to try to make their teams better, 2) people with a lot of money throwing that money around as a pure power display or 3) both.  The Albert Pujols contract situation was one such scenario.

Pujols, a lifelong St. Louis Cardinal, signed a 10-year contract worth $254 million on Thursday with the Los Angeles Angels.  It’s one of the largest contracts given in baseball history and one I also believe that the Angels are soon going to regret giving him.

For the record, I’m a Cubs fan (and a long suffering one at that).  The Cubs tend to have some of the deeper financial pockets in Major League Baseball which made them a potential destination for Pujols – widely considered as one of the best players in baseball.  Pujols, for all of his greatness with a bat, comes with a few red flags though.

First is his age.  He’s about to turn 32 years old.  And that’s if you believe his birth certificate.  Many believe he’s actually 34.  Major leaguers tend to peak in their late 20s to early 30s.  Historically, Pujols is at the end of his prime years and should now begin entering the slow descent portion of his career.

Second is injuries.  A wrist injury last year sidelined him for a number of games and some still wonder if the injury has fully healed.  Judging by his performance alone, Pujols had the worst statistical year of his career last year.  That could be in part due to injury or it could be due to his slowly advancing age.

Third is his performance trend.  Pujols had his worst season last year (still very good by most standards) and his begun to show signs of trailing off.  Plus, he’s entering the phase of his career, as I mentioned before, that players usually begin their decline.  And even the great Pujols has shown he’s human lately.

Considering all that, is this the guy you want to be handing out a guaranteed 10 year contract worth around a quarter of a billion dollars?  I sure wouldn’t.

Pujols would have been a massive upgrade for the talent-depleted Cubs.  From purely a talent standpoint, I would have LOVED to seen Pujols in Cubbie blue.  But the cost to get him was outrageous.  Pujols probably has a good few years left in him before his contract becomes a real albatross.  Does anybody think that Pujols will be worth $25 million when he’s approaching his mid-40s?  This is one fish that I’m glad got away.

Also, for the record I hope that the Cubs don’t get Prince Fielder either.  He’ll get a similar contract to Pujols.  He’s younger but his huge frame will start to break down much sooner than later.  It’s just a matter of time.

Which brings me to the Chris Paul situation (and this situation is a disaster all around).  A little background first.  Paul’s team, the New Orleans Hornets, is in the dire straits.  The NBA has taken ownership of the franchise (actually, the 29 other league owners own an equal share of the franchise) because the team can’t find a buyer.  And it’s losing money.  Paul, the team’s star, is on his way out because the team wouldn’t be able to afford him and he wants to play for a winner.  So the Hornets are trying to facilitate a trade for Paul before he walks away for nothing.

So the Hornets orchestrated a three team trade with the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers that would see Paul teaming up with all time great Kobe Bryant.  And the trade made sense!  The Hornets got some new pieces.  Paul was happy.  Everything worked out great.

Or so it seemed.  Until the Hornets owners (i.e. the 29 other owners) got wind of it and started to complain.  Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert even took it upon himself to e-mail commissioner David Stern with his objections (the e-mail can be read here).  He didn’t like that Paul would team with Bryant while the Lakers would save money in the process and possibly clearing the path for the Lakers to acquire Orlando’s Dwight Howard to for a “big three” similar to the Miami Heat’s trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

I think Gilbert’s still a little sore that James bolted the Cavs last year and headed to the Heat.  Now he’s upset that the whole thing may happen again in another city.  The big teams get richer while the smaller teams suffer in obscurity losing money.

So what did David Stern end up doing?  He vetoed the trade!  Caved to pressure from the other owners and said the trade wouldn’t go through.  I’m not sure what the excuse will be.  Financial.  Competitive balance.  Whatever.  The funny thing is that the trade was quite fair.  You could make an argument that all sides won in this trade yet the league that allowed an abhorrently lopsided Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown trade suddenly thought that this trade wasn’t fair.

So in one week I’ve seen a guy entering the autumn of his career get a quarter of a billion dollar contract and the NBA decide to play Big Brother with its players.  Neither one of these events will be good for sports.

Just what the hell is going on around here?

  1. December 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Great article, Dave. Indeed, as strang a week as I can remember. These oddities, and watching (cringing) as a Red Sox fan as C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Heath Bell, all talent we need, evaporated from the market.

    • December 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      It’s just been some ridiculous money being thrown around (although I guess you could say that every year). I’m surprised by the Miami Marlins. They went from a budget team to big spenders almost overnight. I guess a new stadium will do that for you.

  2. December 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Pujols = A-Rod Part Two: Electric Boogaloo. Like you said, he’s about to go in decline and the Angels will be stuck paying $25 million to a guy whose production in his late 30s/early 40s will be vastly inferior to his prime.

    • December 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      I guess they have to overpay to land him at all but, geez, he’s going to be vastly overpaid with about seven years to go on the contract.

  3. December 10, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Great take Dave. As far as King Albert goes, it’s great for we in the NL Central (Go Reds!). It’s also good to see a free agent period not dominated by the Red Sox and Yankees!

    • December 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      I agree. In fact, I’m not sure the Yankees or Red Sox were ever really in the running. Granted, the Angels might be the next biggest spender but it’s still refreshing seeing someone ending up somewhere other than New York or Boston.

  4. lovethewayyoulied
    December 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    You ask what the hell is wrong with sports and I say the more pertinent question is what the hell is wrong with this country? How can any of the player salaries be justified? I’m all for paying someone 250 mil…IF he solves the problem of world peace or cures all the diseases in the world or maybe wipes out all of the greedy $%#*s who have our country in a complete stranglehold and implements an alternate energy form and acceptable population control measures. That’s worth a nice fat 25 million a year I think.
    Rant complete, lol.

    • December 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      Yes, that definitely would! In the world of professional sports though, it all depends on what people will pay money for.

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