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Cardinal sins

St. Louis sets deadline for Pujols for tomorrow at noon; likely he’ll become FA after season.<br />

St. Louis sets deadline for Pujols for tomorrow at noon; likely he’ll become FA after season. If the slugger does leave, he could become more hated than LeBron James. So who’s to blame? Baseball’s best player just wants a well-deserved payday.

Blame management ...

If you’re ever inanely lucky enough to acquire them, there are some things you just don’t let go of in life. Ever.

Brooklyn Decker. A van Gogh. Albert Pujols.

Unlike the former two, — and thanks to a game dominated and defined by individual statistics — you can actually measure Pujols against every other competitor and objectively call him the greatest hitter through the first 10 years of a career. That would seemingly allow the slugger to cash in on the most lucrative contract in history. Only, the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t offering it.

Instead, general manager John Mozeliak is about 24 hours away from making perhaps the biggest mistake in the history of the game. If Pujols doesn’t agree to a new contract by noon tomorrow, he will become a free agent after the season. He refuses to negotiate during the season.

What stings St. Louis fans the most is the Cards could have locked up the three-time MVP anytime over the last three years. Now it appears too late.

Blame Pujols ...

Not many are against him now. Give it 10 months, though, when Albert Pujols dons Dodger blue or vows to end the Cubbies’ curse.

Just call him LeBron.

OK, sure, you want more money. Understandable. After all, Pujols will have only made $111 million over eight years when his contract expires this fall. That’s chump change for a nine-time All-Star in today’s market.

But that hardly warrants Pujols turning his back on a city that would vote him mayor if he were on the ballot. A city that incessantly defended him in the steroids debate. A city that lists its most prized possessions: 1. Pujols, 2. The Arch.

The best thing to happen to St. Louis since jazz and blues has to find a way to compromise and get it through his skull that no one not named Dan Snyder would even consider offering a 10-year, $300 million deal to a 31-year-old.

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