Christians Debate Albert Pujols' Contract Status

Albert Pujols has been clear regarding his contract status with the St. Louis Cardinals. He did not want it to become a distraction during the season, so he imposed a February deadline. When his agent and the Cardinals were unable to reach an agreement, he said he would not discuss it again until after the 2011 season.

He issued a statement asking the media to honor his request and he wanted St. Louis fans to know something: “I also would like to take this opportunity to reassure the Cardinal Nation, that my effort both on and off the field will never change. I am devoted to giving 100 percent on the field, every single day, just as I have done the last 10 years. We’re all working together toward a common goal and that is to win a World Championship for the City of St. Louis.”

According to a USA Today story, Pujols was the 23rd highest paid player coming into the 2011 season. Arguably, he’s the best player in the game, so the market says he should be paid top dollar.

Some analysts say his next contract could be worth as much as $300 million for 10 years, which would make him the highest paid player in the game. Sports Illustrated reported that the Cardinals offered him a contract believed to be worth in excess of $200 million for eight years shortly before Pujols’ deadline, but an agreement could not be reached.

If Pujols demands top dollar from the Cardinals or some other organization during the off season, will that mean he is greedy? That is a question believers have been discussing since Pujols released his statement.

In February, the USA Today ran a story entitled, “Baseball’s star contract a matter of heavenly debate” that contains a warning about greed from the Rev. Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey in St. Louis: “Nobody really confesses to that sin. Lust, anxiety – sure. But very few people say, ‘I’m greedy,’ and I absolutely think that [Pujols] should be on guard for that.”

With that said, Pujols, and his wife Deidre, have ministered to countless numbers of children with Down syndrome, disabilities, life threatening illnesses and impoverished children in the Dominican Republic through the Pujols Family Foundation.

“Pujols finds himself in the position of being the best performer in an industry with exceedingly high levels of competition,” Scott Lamb told The Christian Post. Lamb has co-written a biography about Pujols with Tim Ellsworth entitled Pujols: More Than the Game, published by Thomas Nelson in February. “The value of Apple Inc. goes up or down with the latest round of news concerning the health of their guru-CEO Steve Jobs. Why? Can’t anybody bring to the job what Jobs does? Apparently not.”

“Likewise, it is a rare person who can hit major league pitching. And, within that small group, the number who can hit like Albert Pujols is even smaller,” he continued. “So small, in fact, that only a few players have ever, in the history of the game, put up the kind of numbers Albert Pujols has for his first 10 years. This fact has not escaped the notice of sports journalists, baseball historians, or fans – and it is the fans who put a lot of money into the pocket of team owners by means of purchasing tickets. If, as is the case with Albert Pujols, one particular player generates vast sums of revenue for an owner, it is only fitting that the player be rewarded accordingly.

“Whether Pujols holds out for free agency in order to earn $3 million or $30 million, some people could make an accusation of greed against him. Whether that accusation is fair, however, is open for discussion. But I think the discussion of ‘how much is enough?’ is not answered by a simple calculation of the cost of living, housing, etc. – for Pujols has already shown a great desire to use his big paychecks to advance his big humanitarian and Christian-mission dreams. Dreams demand dollars to turn into reality. So, the charge of ‘greed’ is only countered by how the money is spent, not how much money is earned.”

Think Christian – a blog that talks about Christ, culture, and the ways faith plays out in everyday life – published a post recently entitled “Does Albert Pujols deserve exorbitant pay?” written by Kenman Wong, a professor of business ethics at Seattle Pacific University. His conclusions are similar to Lamb’s.

“At the end of the day, his predicament is primarily a negotiation with team owners over how to divide the pot of money, isn’t it?” Wong said in the post. “If Pujols accepts less, team owners will benefit. Fewer dollars will be passed along to the foundation he and his wife operate and fewer people will be helped.”

“Should there be a level of scrutiny?” said Brooklyn Cravens in a responsive comment. “Absolutely, as we are called to examine ourselves numerous times in the [New Testament]. Still, a good steward is often rewarded with more.”

Lamb pointed out that Pujols surrounds himself with other men who disciple him, challenge him, and hold him accountable to live for Jesus Christ.

“Whether it is his pastor Phil Hunter [at West County Community Church near St. Louis], or other Christian friends – Tony Nolan, Mark Cahill, Ricky Horton, Grant Williams, etc. – or even Christian teammates like Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, Albert knows that ‘iron sharpens iron’ and Christian friends keep his eyes pointed in the right direction.”

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