Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Does Money Buy Happiness, Mr. Pujols?

I can give you 240 million reasons why I shouldn't feel sorry for Albert Pujols. After ten fabulous seasons in St. Louis where he established himself as the best player in baseball, Albert signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Ever since he showed up in Hollywood he has been in an epic slump which currently finds him hitting a paltry .197. He has hit one home run in his first 37 games. There are currently several pitchers with higher batting averages than Albert. He is pressing. His butt-cheeks are so tight he could crack walnuts back there. The fans are starting to murmur. He never, ever smiles on the field anymore. He looks like a lost man.

His old team is doing great. The Cardinals offered Albert big money to stay with them, to be a Cardinal for life. He could have replaced Stan Musial in the hearts of the best and most loyal baseball fans on the planet. Albert said "Thanks, but no thanks". Now the Cardinals have some rookie playing first base who they are paying the league minimum, and he's chugging along pretty well, and the team is in first place. Meanwhile Albert looks miserable both at the plate, in the field and in the dugout. But he's cashing ridiculously large checks, so that's something.

And yet, I can't help but feel sorry for the guy. You're the best hitter in baseball in St. Louis for ten years. Then suddenly you're the richest man in baseball, the face of a new team with huge expectations, and you can't get the ball out of the infield. It's got to be the most frustrating experience in sports...justifying your huge new contract in front of a stadium full of working stiffs who just forked over $100 for a seat to watch you play. Great players get off to slow starts all the time in baseball. Some guys hate the cold weather in April, pitchers always have the advantage early, etc.. But it's now the middle of May. It's plenty warm. The 2012 season is nearing the quarter pole, and you're still searching for your second homer and still hitting under .200? This is getting ugly.

I've been in a performance-based business all of my life. If I don't close business, I'm a failure. I've been through my share of sales slumps in my 29 years in business. They are no fun. After a while you begin to have doubts. You begin to wonder if maybe this time it's different. Maybe this time, you're done. Maybe you'll never close another case, ever. The difference for me is I don't have a 240 million dollar contract for the next ten years, guaranteed to pay me no matter what.

Albert's agent negotiated a few perks to go along with all the money. One such perk is that Albert gets a hotel suite to stay in when his team is on the road. So he has lots of room to stretch out and watch his latest 0 for 4 performance get dissected by the talking heads on Sports Center. Does money buy happiness? Just ask Mr. Pujols.