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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

Politics of baseball

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To heck with politics, let's talk baseball! The action begins tonight when our beloved St. Louis Cardinals take on the Texas Rangers. Even if it does nothing other than to lift the spirits of the Cardinal fans, it's simply wonderful that Missouri's favorite team has made it to the big show.

But actually, the World Series will be an economic boon to St. Louis and will help to put the team, the town and perhaps the state in the national spotlight - if for only a week or so.

Cardinal fans will rejoice during this October match-up but there remains one huge issue lingering for Redbird diehards - the fate of Cardinal fan-favorite Albert Pujols. For just over a decade, Pujols has been a one-man attraction. His skills are clearly the best in the game. And his work off the field - for a variety of charities - puts him in rarified air among the baseball community.

But baseball is also a business. The Cardinal organization is a huge corporation that derives revenues from a variety of sources. The Birds are a huge tourist attraction for our state and especially the city of St. Louis. They sell clothing merchandise and food and beverages and entertainment that generates millions upon millions in corporate revenues.

At the epicenter of this massive business is Albert Pujols. To underestimate his value to the company, the town and the state is a fool's game. He is simply the best in his business and, as a result, he believes he should be compensated accordingly.

When the Series ends - regardless of the outcome - Cardinal fans will hold their collective breath awaiting word of the team's star player.

Pujols deserves the highest compensation in the game of baseball. Period! He has proven his value time and time again. And though the financial numbers are massive, Pujols has a talent and a skill that we mere mortals do not possess.

Pujols generates untold millions for a company that is like most corporations in this country. The Cardinal organization pays taxes that hire firemen and policemen. Taxes that fix streets and improve neighborhoods. The company hires thousands of workers who also pay taxes.

So clearly, Albert Pujols is important to the business of baseball.

So let's say Albert wants $250 million for his skills. He wants that level of compensation because he can produce more than that in revenues that benefit the company. He wants that level of compensation because aside from his God-given skills, he has also sacrificed much of his life to improve his skills. He has sacrificed time away from his family. He has worked far beyond the eight-hour day to stay on top of his game.

And he wants to be fairly compensated for those sacrifices.

But in the undercurrent of today's changing society, should we expect Pujols to give half of his income to provide for the added financial support of other players who have lesser skills, who choose not to make the sacrifices that he makes?

In the current culture, is it not fair to ask Pujols to assist - far beyond what he currently does - those who do not produce the revenues for the company, who do not bring customers to the ballpark and who are ultimately unable to match his talents?

Does shared sacrifice apply to Pujols? Does wealth redistribution apply to Pujols. If we ask the St. Louis future Hall of Famer to share his earned income with those who produce much less, do we still expect Pujols to produce at the same phenomenal rate as he has in the past?

Whether with the Cardinals or someone else, Pujols will receive the compensation he deserves. And his efforts will benefit untold others. And yes, he'll toil for some nasty corporation in a culture where corporations are under assault. And he'll take the money he earns and spend it in the manner he chooses. And it would be wrong to ask him to give the bulk of his income to benefit those who bring less to the table.

To heck with baseball, let's talk politics!

Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen