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Stupid Offers, Rogue Teams, and Plan Bs

There's this rather odd television commercial playing right now I find exceedingly odd. It's one of those Above the Influence ads, designed to exert societal pressure on kids not to cave into societal pressure to do drugs. In the advert, we see an acceptably unacceptable everyday teenager -- i.e. he's white, has hair of a length which would have been shocking in 1961, is wearing clothes which do not fit him particularly well, etc. -- heading out into an urban jungle, presumably to make trouble for the Establishment.

Ah, but wait! This teen isn't one of those crazy beatniks we've all heard so much about! You see, he's walking right past all the bad influences! Doesn't even pay a second's notice to the also-surprisingly-well-scrubbed-for-implied-druggies teens sitting on the stoop, presumably discussing evil plans to impregnate Mary Sue from down the block and then smoke some reefer cigarettes afterward. That's not for our delightfully scruffy protagonist!

So the kid is shown climbing stairs, what apparently passes for rebellious music these days plays in the background, and we then see him emerge out into bright sunlight as he opens a door to the roof of a building. He stands looking out over the city for a moment, then takes off running toward the edge of the building and jumps off, landing on the roof of the next building over. As he continues to do this, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, the voice-over tagline comes in.

"Every day, I rise above it."

The commercial concludes with him making his final jump, down to the sidewalk from a relatively low roofline and walking off. Here we have our Atlas, friends, capable of supporting the world upon his shoulders thanks to clean living and the willingness to jump off buildings on his morning commute to class.

Now, far be it from me to question the validity of anyone's anti-anything hysteria, or to downplay the horrors of addiction. However, I must admit to being more than a little fascinated by the proposition this commercial sets before us. Essentially, it is positing rather than risking your health and life by taking illegal drugs of some sort, one should actually go and jump between the roofs of buildings. We are to believe, in fact, the monstrous ravages of drug addiction are actually worse than falling several stories to a broken, bleeding, gurgling death on the concrete in the course of walking to school.

I'm not judging, necessarily. Just fascinated by this bit of propaganda and what it is suggesting.

Baseball and doom after the jump.

All along through the process of Albert Pujols going to free agency, there's been plenty of discussion about what he would command. Years, dollars, respect, laws forcing all inhabitants of the city he chooses to curtsy when he happens by, things like that. And in every single one of those discussions, there is one sentiment which never fails to be expressed.

"Well, you know, he'll get more than he should, though. It only takes one team to make that really stupid offer."

It is one of the great truisms of economics, that it requires only one rogue element to set the market value on something, even when said market value may be far, far out of line with the actual value. If everyone in the room agrees that antique credenza is worth two hundred dollars, but there's one dude in the corner who's willing to pay nine thousand dollars for it, then guess what? Yep, you're going to have to beat nine thousand in the bidding if you really want that credenza.

I don't imagine too very many people, though, would have thought the Florida Miami Marlins would be the dude in the corner. But, hey, here we are.

We know the Marlins offered Albert a ten year deal. We know the Cardinals countered with their own ten year deal. We know that means one of these clubs -- or perhaps the mysterious mystery team of mystery -- will be paying Albert Pujols $25 million+ to play baseball when he is 39, 40, and 41 years old. I know there are those who believe Pujols will be worth it at any cost, for the history, for the production, for the winning, for the love, but you'll have to forgive me if the notion of paying a player over 40 in the neighbourhood of 25 million per year seems flat-out stupid to me. I wouldn't do it, and I'm frankly appalled that the Cardinals are going to.

But then, given the dearth of acceptable Plan Bs, perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising. Jimmy Rollins is not in any way, shape, or form a Plan B to not signing Albert Pujols. Rollins himself will be nearing 40 when he finishes the mush-more-modestly-lengthed deal he's demanding, and shortstops in their late 30s are sad sights indeed, just as a general rule. The Mark Buerhle Plan has a nice story to it, but I don't think marginally upgrading Kyle Lohse's spot in the rotation is going to take all that much sting out of losing your seven win first baseman.

Oh, so you didn't get that credenza you wanted? Ah, well, I'm very sorry sir, but that's just how these things go, you understand. No, I wasn't expecting the gentleman in the overcoat and tube socks in the corner to pull out a jar of pennies that large either. But, all is not lost, sir. Chin up! We have lots of other nice things! How about, hmm, um, let me about this? I know it's not the antique credenza you wanted, but it's still quite lovely. What is it? Oh, it's an antique bedpan used in a tuberculosis ward. Never been washed, you know. Quite authentic. Sir? Where are you going?

In reality, unless we want to contemplate giving Prince Fielder an equally stupid deal to the one the Cardinals are offering to Albert, the only real Plan B which made sense was Jose Reyes. And, of course, thanks to the protracted negotiations with Pujols and his cookie monster of an agent (wait for the joke to sink in...there you go), the best Plan B out there has already been scooped up while everyone was standing around waiting for Plan A. Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

I'll go ahead and say it: I would have rather paid Jose Reyes $17.5 million a year for the next six seasons than pay Albert $23 million a year for the next ten. I know there are plenty of reasons plenty of people would prefer to pay Albert, and they're mostly pretty good reasons. But Reyes at six years gets you out after his age 36 season. Pujols, on the other hand, after his age 36 season will still have five years remaining. Also known as his age 37, 38, 39, 40, and 41 seasons. Good luck with that.

The Marlins, of course, are banking on something beyond on-the-field performance. They're trying to build a new brand, and Pujols is central to that. Ordinarily you would say just win and the fans will come. Only problem is the Marlins have won. And the silence was deafening. Pujols to them is a centerpiece that will bring in droves of Hispanic fans, all clamouring to see guys with names like Ramirez and Reyes play baseball flanking the greatest Latino player in the game. Albert is a marketing opportunity to end all others for them. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are trying to build a team capable of defending a World Series title. No more, no less.

Here's the problem: the Cardinals need Albert the Player, and are willing to pay solid credenza money for him. The Marlins, though, well, that credenza really ties the room together, you know? They need Albert the Myth, Albert the Figure, and are willing to pay on a different scale. So, do the Cardinals pay for Albert the Figure when they really only wanted Albert the Player?

The best thing that could happen now, I think, is for the Cards to be outbid. As strange as it sounds, I'm certain of that. Oh, well.

I'm hoping we get news sometime today. My magical baron powers should almost guarantee it. Developing...