Tipsheet: Albertageddon is upon us

2011-02-14T07:09:00Z 2011-02-14T14:53:28Z Tipsheet: Albertageddon is upon usBY JEFF GORDON stltoday.com
February 14, 2011 7:09 am  • 

Were you hopeful that the Cardinals would sign Albert Pujols before Wednesday’s deadline?

We’re sorry to hear that. A flurry of media reports – starting with a dispatch by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale Sunday night – indicated that Albert’s camp rejected the Cards’ offer.

Post-Dispatch baseball writer Joe Strauss has consistently reported that the sides are far apart -- entrenched in their positions with no signs of resolution.

Barring a stunning turn of events, Pujols seems destined to test the free agent marketplace.

Pujols might end the suspense Tuesday by announcing he has terminated discussions with the Cardinals. That preemptive move should keep his Wednesday arrival from turning into a circus.

“Even if Pujols continues his silence about his future, it won't squelch the firestorm that has already been created in St. Louis,” Nightengale wrote. “Newspaper columnists are picking sides. The phrase ‘#Albertageddon’ is gaining popularity on Twitter. And a Web site — albertcountdown.com — is counting down to when he arrives at spring training and terminates negotiations.”

The Pujols/Cards standoff could be epic, worthy of its own movie. It will test manager Tony La Russa’s crisis management skills.

Fortunately he has no shortage of experience on that front, as CBSSports.com scribe Scott Miller notes:

“It's hard to remember a La Russa-managed club that hasn't had its share of distractions, some of them even spectacular, many of them orchestrated by La Russa himself. Mark McGwire's return to the game last spring -- sponsored by La Russa -- eventually gave way to peace and quiet. Later in the summer, La Russa's tiff with outfielder Colby Rasmus went public after the manager spelled out his displeasure with Rasmus.”

With national media types buzzing around the Cards, awaiting the arrival of Pujols, La Russa will need to be in midseason form from Day One of spring training.

Tick, tock.

MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE

Questions to ponder while wondering while the Blues try to shake off a difficult weekend against Minnesota:

So what do the dogs think of all the hoopla at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

We all love colorful ring entrances, but shouldn't boxers save their energy for the fight?

If the NCAA really cared about student-athletes, wouldn't it crack down on the practice of "oversigning" scholarship players?

On the list of great showdowns, where does Life vs. Man stack up?

QUIPS ‘R US

Here is what some of America’s leading sports pundits have been writing:

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: “The NFL’s contract between owners and players expires in 18 days, and a lockout looms unless a new agreement ends the labor discord. Me, I think this thing should be settled on the field. Am picturing a maniacal Steelers linebacker James Harrison chasing down a screaming Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.”

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: “Before everybody gets all excited about the four- and five-star recruits signed on National Signing Day, remember this: The two Super Bowl quarterbacks — Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers — had only one scholarship offer between them. Roethlisberger accepted that offer from Miami of Ohio while Rodgers went to junior college. Moral of the story: The recruiting process is like a prom date: Doesn't matter what happens at the beginning of the evening; what matters is at the end of the night.”

Jerry Greene, ESPN.com: “Someone defaced the statue of Harry Caray that stands outside Wrigley Field by spray painting ‘Sox’ on it. Even worse, they left a recording of Christina Aguilera singing ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game.’”

Mike Freeman, CBSSports.com: “There is also this piece of truth: The NFL has become our crack. Its popularity, for the foreseeable future, is unshakeable. If games are missed and you become angry, it won't matter, because you'll be back. We'll all be back. This isn't baseball. This isn't the 1950s. Before its labor issues and steroid scandals baseball was on its way to semi-fossil-dom. Football is just hitting its stride. It's the sport of the future and will be that way for the next 20 years. Nothing can stop it, not even the impending lockout foolishness.”

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: “The pleasantries and phoniness are long gone out of this burgeoning blood war, and there’s just this unmistakable mandate for the Heat on the way into the All-Star break, on the way toward an inevitable Eastern Conference playoff showdown: Sooner or later, they’ll need to stop flexing and fronting, come down off that stage and beat the Celtics on the basketball court.”

MEGAPHONE

Alex Rodriguez to Texas was the worst signing in the history of baseball in my view. There is this assumption that because this guy got (a huge contract) and this guy got (an even bigger contract), Albert Pujols has to get (more than both). Well, what if there are no bidders? What if the music stops and there are no chairs?"

Andy McPhail, president of baseball operations for the Orioles.

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Jeff Gordon

This is the new home for STLtoday.com sports columnist Jeff Gordon. Here you'll find his columns on the Cards, Rams, Blues and more, plus his daily "Tipsheet" blog about who's in and who's out in the world of sports.

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