Albert Pujols, Cardinals Unable To Agree On Contract; Armageddon Not Imminent

OK, so the huge deadline has passed for Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals to agree on a deal that would keep baseball's greatest player in a Cardinals uniform for the rest of this season.

Wait, what? He's already under contract for this season? And the Cardinals are strong contenders to win another National League Central title? And after this season, the Cardinals will have the same chance as any other team to sign Pujols for 2012 and beyond?

Oh.

Look, this wasn't a good day for the St. Louis Cardinals. They've spent who-knows-how-many man-hours on trying to get Pujols signed to what would essentially be a lifetime contract; first he plays for the Cardinals until he retires, then he becomes an ambassador-for-life like Stan Musial. That's the plan, anyway. And now it's on hold, perhaps forever.

This is far from the end of the world, though. The Cardinals still have the best player in baseball for the whole season, and maybe a winning season convinces them to up their offer, or Pujols to take a little less than he might get from a richer club. Maybe a losing season makes everyone's decisions a bit easier. Maybe the Cardinals will dig up some rock-solid evidence -- if they don't have it already -- that Pujols was born exactly when he says he was, and that makes them more comfortable with a 10-year contract.

There are just so many variables here. You want to get Albert Pujols signed, locked up for a long time. But how long, and for how much? Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make.

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