“I understand you’re talking to us, then one TV station, and that’s about it,” is how Sandi Brown, morning show host at 99.1 Joy FM in St. Louis, opened her conversation Monday with Deidre Pujols, the wife of new Angels first baseman Albert Pujols.
“This is the moment of truth for us,” Deidre replied. “Four days have passed and most people are probably sick of hearing our name by now, but I’m ready to let people have our side of what has happened and be able to make better judgements.”
Before we delve into the topics discussed during the 39-minute interview, some background information is necessary. Joy FM is a Christian music radio station based in a western suburb of St. Louis that debuted this past July in place of “Classic 99,” a classical music offering that had been on the air for more than six decades. Joy FM recieved funding and pledges, during its inception, from the Pujols family and from former Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes.
Sandi Brown, the interviewer, is friends with Deidre Pujols, the interviewee. The chat opened with a prayer.
Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million pact with the Angels at last week’s Winter Meetings in Dallas and was introduced as the club’s new first baseman at a kind of hybrid pep rally and press conference Saturday in Anaheim attended by over 4,000 fans. The deal also includes a 10-year personal services contract that will keep Pujols a member of the Angels organization in some capacity long after his playing days are through.
Pujols often claimed, near the end of his tenure in St. Louis, that he wanted to remain a “Cardinal for life,” in the ilk of the legendary Stan Musial. To hear his wife Deidre tell it during Monday’s interview, that claim was wholly accurate. Pujols did want to return to St. Louis this offseason. But then his mindset changed.
In a failed reading of the marketplace for the 31-year-old slugger, the Cardinals put forth a five-year, $130 million proposal earlier this winter. Some might call that part of doing business — every negotiation starts somewhere, and offers can be improved — but it struck the wrong chord in the Pujols household.
“When you have somebody say, ‘we want you to be a Cardinal for life,’ and then only offer you a five-year deal, it kind of confused us,” said Deidre, calling the offer an “insult.”
The Cardinals eventually improved their package, all the way up to 10 years and $210 million, but $30 million of that would have been deferred with no interest. In the Angels’ $254 million deal, nothing is deferred.
“I’m going to tell you what, listeners especially,” said Deidre, “had that offer been given to us with a guarantee (i.e. no deferred money), we would have a Cardinal on our bat.”
Deidre then hinted that the lack of a post-baseball commitment from the Cardinals also rubbed Albert the wrong way. He wasn’t offered a personal services contract like the one Angels owner Arte Moreno gave.
“Albert and I never, not one time ever, made plans to leave this city,” said Deidre. “We had no reason, not one reason, to want to leave. … People were deceived by the numbers.”
The rest of the interview centred largely around Mrs. Pujols’ faith and upbringing in Kansas City, and the both harsh and friendly comments she’s received from St. Louisans since the decision was announced on Thursday. But the main intention of the lengthy Monday morning discussion was to relay the message that Albert did not chase the Angels’ $254 million offer because of greed or money lust. Rather, it was about the Angels’ willingness to make a long-term commitment and the Cardinals’ reluctance to match that.
“It’s just like God,” Deidre told Brown near the end of the chat, “to put us on a team called the Angels.”