I don't agree that baseball is a business, just as I don't agree that it's a game.
Then what is it exactly? The answer, like most things, is "it depends".
What we all saw last October was clearly that baseball is a game. To be enjoyed. And there is no better example of this than the 2011 World Series.
But now, this time of year, baseball is a business. So the parties involved in the business have to do what's in their best interests.
Which is the beauty of the Albert Pujols signing this week by the Angels. I think all the principal actors in it won. At least for awhile.
Albert won the second biggest contract in MLB history. No doubt it would have been the biggest ever if the Yankees and Red Sox had not already had 1st basemen.
This signing fits perfectly for Pujols, who will undoubtedly benefit from being a DH later in his career.
But the biggest reason this is good for Pujols is, of course, "the money". (I'm overlooking the fact, for the moment, that on numerous occasions Pujols said it wasn't about "the money" and that he already had plenty of it. That's fodder for another post).
The Angels won, at least for the immediate future, in that they get the best hitter in the game. Ask me again in 5 or 6 years if they are still "winners" on this point and I might have a different opinion. I've watched Albert Pujols closely these last 11 years, and the Albert Pujols of today is definitely not the Albert Pujols of 5 years ago. I don't see any reason why this trend will not continue. (If I may paraphrase Toby Keith, "he ain't as good as he once was, but he's as good once as he ever was." Nowhere was this more evident than in the World Series, where he had 1 game where he was the best ever, but really did not do a lot in the other 6).
Which brings me exactly to the reason why the Cardinals also won in this deal. They are not going to be handcuffed by an expensive contract to an aging player when he is past his prime, allowing them much more flexibility in an uncertain economic era.
They have Molina, Wainwright, Freese and Craig to take care of in the future. No way that was happening with a huge Albert contract.
A lot of people think the Cardinals should take the money they were trying to come up with for Pujols and get 2 or 3 other players. But I don't. For it is the spending of the money they supposedly don't really have, whether to Pujols or others, that is the the handcuffing factor. Mid-season deals are easier to make if one remains flexible.
And the Cardinals farm system is loaded right now. With or without Albert, the Cardinals can still contend.
In the business sense, everyone wins right now. As a fan, I'm disappointed it happened like this. I would rather have Albert than not have him. But at this time of year baseball is a business, and it doesn't operate in the realms of hope and sentimentality.
Fortunately, it won't stay this way. I'm already looking forward to spring training, when all that game stuff will start again.