Are Baseball Union Goons Forcing Albert Pujols to Make More Money?

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa hates it when outside forces get involved in players’ contract negotiations. So with a day to go before superstar slugger Albert Pujols’ deadline for reaching an extension with the Cardinals, La Russa

went to the press

to complain about the contract negotiations.

The problem, according to La Russa, is that the players union is demanding that Pujols sign the most lucrative contract in baseball history, rather than letting the nine-time All-Star and three-time Most Valuable Player agree to a lower-money deal “taking everything into account.” Presumably the other considerations include Pujols’ long-term relationship with St. Louis fans, the city’s rich baseball tradition, and Tony La Russa’s desire to keep the sport’s best hitter batting for the Cardinals, rather than for some other team that Tony La Russa would have to manage against.

La Russa reportedly described the union pressure on Pujols as “not just arm-twisting. It’s dropping an anvil on your back through the roof of your house.” Ouch! But: are you lying on your stomach as the anvil arrives? Or is it coming through your roof at an angle? Wouldn’t the roof slow the anvil down, so it hurts less? The physics gets confusing. And how did the manager become aware of this dastardly Road Runner-cartoon level of interference? ESPN’s Jayson Stark added:

La Russa said he had no specific evidence that Pujols was being pressured by the players union.

Pujols, a

career .331 hitter

who averages 40.8 home runs and 118.6 runs per year, will have the 25th-highest salary in the majors this season, as

calculated by Joe Posnanski

of Sports Illustrated—ranking behind Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano, and Jason Bay, among others. Thanks to the rules restricting young baseball players’ bargaining power, he has so far been paid, by one estimate, $200 million less than his abilities would been worth to La Russa and the Cardinals on the open market.