I have to share a story with everyone that happened back in March. A friend of mine, a Cubs fan, decided to take his son, a Cardinals fan, to Florida to watch the Redbirds play in spring training. After arriving in Florida and taking in the first game of the week my friend and his son went out to eat dinner that night after the game. It just so happens, that they were seated by one of the Cardinals players. My friend thought it was Jason Motte, but wasn’t for certain so he asked his son who also thought that it was him. My friend asked him, “Aren’t you one of the Cardinal ballplayers?” and Motte confirmed he was and from there a conversation began. It was not your typical conversation with a fan pestering a player and asking for autographs and pictures. Instead, it was something different. The conversation included how good the food was, little league and high school baseball, family, what it’s like to face a 90+MPH fastball and more. Before Motte left the restaurant, he asked my friend if they were coming to the game the next day. He confirmed that he and his son would be there and Motte told him to find him once they got there. So, the next day, they arrived early to the game. As they were walking in, Motte saw my friend’s son and motioned for them to come his way. He then proceeded to introduce them to other players and my friend’s son was able to get several autographs and pictures of the players. Guys like Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook to name a couple. These players went out of their way to do this. My friend was able to shake some of the players hands and thank them for their generosity they displayed to his son.
All my life I have been pestered by Cardinal fans attempting to get me to switch my allegiance from the Cubs to the redbirds. Well, I’ve finally seen the light! I am going to root for the Cards all season long and hope and pray that Albert resigns with “us”.
As I sit here tonight about to watch the greatest rivalry in college basketball, North Carolina vs. Duke, it makes me think of the big 3 rivalries in baseball. There’s the Yankess/Red Sox, Giants/Dodgers and my favorite the Cubs/Cards.
First, let me talk about the UNC/Duke rivalry. The first game this year was great even if Duke won. And though I do not like Duke, I have a lot of respect for coach K, their players and their success. I also like how passionate their fans are. But the Tar Heels have been my team since I was a kid and a young Michael Jordan starred for Dean Smith. I’ve seen Roy Williams win two titles since becoming coach and I have a feeling he’ll win a few more before he’s finished coaching.
The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry definitely gets the most attention in baseball. I used to refer to ESPN’s Baseball Tonight as Red Sox Nation. And you can guarantee that these two teams will be televised nationally as much as possible when they play each other. Heck, the MLB Network aired their spring training game just a night ago. While I hear a lot of fans complain about these two teams, mainly Cardinal fans (remember, I live in Cardinal territory), I don’t mind watching these two teams clash.
I believe that the next rivalry, the Dodgers/Giants, is the most unique. It began on the east coast and has migrated to the west coast. WOW, MARSHALL JUST SCORED THE FIRST 2 POINTS OF THE GAME! GO TAR HEELS! Now, back to my post. I don’t know too many fans of either of these teams. Most of their fans I have met here on MLBlogs. I understand this is a fierce rivalry, but it is one that I have never experienced. I have experienced the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry in spring training a few years back for the record. Anyway, I still respect the Giants/Dodgers rivalry and definitely pay attention when these two teams play.
Finally, the rivalry I enjoy best in baseball, the Cubs and Cards. As a diehard Cub fan living in Cardinal territory it can be interesting to say the least. I imagine it would be the same for a Cardinal fan living in Cub territory. I have had total strangers approach me in stores and restaurants to talk trash to me when I’m wearing a Cub hat, shirt, jersey etc. Sometimes, it’s good natured ribbing between fans and other times people are just foolish. Every team has those fans including my Cubs so, I usually ignore these people. Anyway, I love watching the Cubs and Cards play. I’ve been on the metro in St. Lou wearing a Cubs jersey numerous times without any incidents and have had some great banter with Cardinal fans at games. I would venture to say this rivalry is the most peaceful of baseball’s big 3 rivalries.
When it’s all said and done, I think long lasting rivalries are great for their respective sports and the fans. For me, I’ve learned to respect the Duke Blue Devils and St. Louis Cardinals along with an overwhelming majority of their fans. GO TAR HEELS & GO CUBS GO!!!!
With the injury to Adam Wainwright, I truly think the Cards need to sign Jeremy Bonderman. He’s the type of pitcher that Dave Duncan could turn around and get 12 wins from this season.
This Albert Pujols deal is getting interesting. I was listening to talk sports radio this morning and they were focusing on the idea that the Cards trade Pujols. I don’t see that happening. I believe the Cards will be able to sign him after the season if they are willing to meet most of his demands. If for some reason he does not sign with the Cards then I see him signing with a National League. I cannot imagine Albert going to the AL and having to be a DH even in the later stages of his career. He’s too competitive and wants to be on the field at all times.
The Cubs’ Marlon Byrd is working with Victor Conte. Remember him? The guy from Balco labs that did jail time. Byrd said he is not doing anything illegal and I believe him, but couldn’t he have found someone else?!?! Sorry Marlon, but Conte isn’t someone I would want to be associated with.
Jeff Samardzija is going to be a reliever this season. No question about it. The Cubs have enough guys competing for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation so Jeff will pitch out of the pen. At least he knows what his role will be this season. He’s out of options so if he doesn’t pitch well he may not stay with the Cubs.
The Cubs traded minor league infielder, Tony Thomas, for 26 year old Robert Coello. The former Red Sox minor league will probably start the year in Iowa and be called up in case of injury. I believe he will be used as a starter in Iowa to start the season, but is also capable of coming out of the pen. Personally, I didn’t care for this trade.
Josh Vitters needs to have a breakout season in 2011 or I fear he may become the next Ryan Harvey. I will be keeping an eye on him and I really hope he stays healthy and hits like he’s capable of.
Finally, Keith Moreland will be taking the place of Ron Santo in the radio booth. I am happy for Keith and believe he will do a great job.
I know everyone in the world has an opinion on Albert Pujols and his contract situation with the Cardinals. Will he sign with the Cards, how much money and how many years seem to dominate the baseball news everyday. I have no problem with that because I want to know too. So, I have a couple of scenarios regarding Albert and his next contract. Hope you enjoy.
Albert signs with St. Louis and Red Bird nation breathes a huge sigh of relief. He gets 7 years guaranteed at $28 million per year with a player option for an 8th year and a club option for a 9th year. This allows the Cards to be the favorite in the NL Central for another few years. However, the Cards may face some problems long term with this contract. The Cards already signed Matt Holliday for $17 million a year through 2016 and a team option for 2017 at the same price . Adam Wainwright has a $9 million team option for 2012 and $12 million team option for 2013. Wainwright will be a free agent after the 2013 season unless things change between now and then. Chris Carpenter has a $15 million team option for 2012 and will be a free agent after that season. Fortunately, they have young players in Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia and David Freese that will help offset the salaries of the Cards’ “Big 4”. At least until 2015. That’s the earliest year that Rasmus and Garcia can become free agents. So, I think the Cards will do great in the first few years of Albert’s contract, but it may hamper them financially in 2015 and beyond. I know resigning Wainwright won’t be cheap. He’s a great pitcher and a legitimate ace. If Rasmus, Garcia and Freese all continue to improve they should get substantial raises through arbitration or contract extensions. However, the Cards suffer more, in my opinion, by not signing Albert.
The Cards don’t get a deal done with Albert this spring. He hits the free agent market and the bidding goes crazy! Eventually, he agrees to sign with the Cards for $30 million a year for 10 years. The Cards try to defer some of the contract, but it’s such a large deal that it still hampers them finacially beyond 2015 . I don’t see the Cardinals brass caving in to 10 years and $30 million.
Pujols decides to give the Cardinals a break and sign for 7 years at $27.5 million a year. This is the best case scenario for the Cards. I can see this happening if the Cards work out some sort of vesting options for an additional 3 years potentially making it a 10 year contract. I can see something like Pujols having to play in a minumum number of games each year or driving in a certain number runs in order to guarantee years 8-10. If the Cards pull this off I think they will benefit greatly!
The Cub scenario! The Cubs sign him for 10 years at $30 million a year. The ONLY way this would work for the Cubs, in my opinion, is to front load the deal. Ramirez, Silva, Fukudome and Pena are all free agents after this season (Ramirez and Silva each have options for next year with buyouts). That would free up around $40 million dollars for next season. That’s a lot of money to be used on Pujols. Soriano will become a free agent in 2015 clearing up another $18 million a year. Carlos Zambrano will become a free agent in 2013 or 2014. He has a vesting option for 2014 at $19.25 million. So between Soriano and Zambrano the Cubs have over $35 million coming off the books soon. I think the Cubs could make this work financially if we spend our money wisely. We have one of the largest payrolls in baseball and I know we could afford Pujols. The real question is, Do we want to? Do we really want to spend that type of money on the best hitter in the game who will be aging for the majority of his contract? Do we want to risk another Soriano type of contract? Do we want to add fuel to the fire in the Cubs/Cards rivalry? I don’t know! I do know this. I would like to see what Albert could do offensively playing 81 home games at Wrigley Field. But I don’t know if I would be willing to pay the price.
I know there will be a lot of teams willing to make an offer to Albert if he doesn’t sign with the Cards. The Angels, Cubs, Rangers and Nationals are the teams I have as frontrunners, outside of the Cardinals, to make a serious run at Pujols if he does become a free agent. Yet, I consider myself a baseball purist. And as a baseball purist I want to see Albert play his entire career in St. Louis. I also want the Cubs to beat the Cards with Albert still wearing a Cardinals jersey. That would be just fine with me.