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Sports Desk

There’s No Such Thing As Brand Loyalty……


From my post today on Sports Insanity blog on SportsRantz posted earlier today:

…….or so we have recently found this out with the departure of one Albert Pujols from St. Louis in favor of a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

If you think of brand loyalty within the Cardinals camp, you think of those like Stan “The Man” Musial, Whitey Herzog, Mark McGwire, Tony LaRussa, Mike Matheny – all men who played and/or managed for the Cardinals, but continue to be loyal to the organization today. You think within the rest of the sports world as Ben Rothelisberger and Peyton Manning as being loyal to their teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts, respectively. You think Mario Lemieux with the Pittsburgh Penguins. You think Steven Jackson with the St. Louis Rams and Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Those are players who are loyal to their brand.

However, Cardinals Nation was delivered a huge blow last week when Pujols decided to take an offer he couldn’t refuse to play for the Angels instead of staying loyal to the team that he delivered two World Series championships in three appearances. Among the majority of the Nation, they considered this as an act of treason – high treason, moreorless, after his countless years of charity work in the St. Louis metropolitan area, as well as his native country Dominican Republic.

Trust me – I’ve seen plenty of pictures of their disapproval of Pujols’ departure:

Like this one….. (at right)
“Bye Bye #5 It’s NOT worth $250 million”
Because in all reality, Pujols has 5 years left in his career and will endanger the financial future of the Angels organization.
It is just fiscally irresponsible to fork out that much cash for someone who might be retiring by 2016 at the earliest.
But being a Cardinals fan since moving to Illinois in 1993, I have learned of the greats of the Cardinals, including those who consider themselves part of the Red Jacket Club. You should recognize them in some way or manner:
  • Stan “The Man” Musial wore #6 for the Cardinals, which he started in 1941 and played 22 seasons as an OF/1B. Greed was no factor – he only cleared $1 million in his career wearing the Birds On The Bat. He was also part of three World Series championship teams in 1942, 1944 and 1946. Musial was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 as a first ballot induction. (A cool tidbit: I share my birthday with Musial, who turned 91 on November 21.)
  • Red Schoendienst (born in Germantown, IL) wore #2 for the Cardinals, started with the team as a second baseman four years after Musial in 1945. Although he did leave for a few years to play for the New York Giants and Milwaukee Braves, he returned to finish his career as a Cardinal player and retired as a player in 1963. However, as a Cardinal player, he was part of five World Series championship teams in 1946 (with Musial), 1957, 1964, 1967 and perhaps the most notable World Series of all, 1982. Red would return as a manager two years later and would last until 1976, but also managed the Cardinals during the 1980 and 1990 seasons as well. He was inducted into the NBHOF in 1989 via a Veteran’s Commision decision. (He was a Cardinal for 26 seasons, including his managing years.)
  • Bob “Hoot” “Gibby” GIbson wore #45 for the Cardinals, started in 1959 with the Cardinals and never left until his retirement as a pitcher in 1975, after 16 seasons. Gibson was a NBHOF first ballot inductee in 1981. He was also with Schoendienst on the 1964 and 1967 World Series championship teams.
  • Louis Clark “Lou” Brock wore #20 for the Cardinals, but did not start out a Cardinal. He played for the Chicago Cubs as a LF until 1964, when he was traded to St. Louis. It proved to be a great transaction as his career turned around significantly. Lou would play for the Cardinals until 1979, was a crucial part of two World Series titles alongside Schoendienst and Gibson in 1964 and 1967 and would become a NBHOF inductee in 1985. Lou was a Cardinal for 15 seasons.
  • Osborne Earl “Ozzie” Smith wore #1 for the Cardinals and like Brock, “The Wizard” did not start out in St. Louis, as he was part of the San Diego Padres from 1978 until 1981 before joining the Cardinals in 1982. Smith is the youngest member of the Red Jacket Club at age 56. He is perhaps the most notable shortstop in history – a lot of sports footage features him and even got legendary broadcaster Jack Buck excited. Smith would be part of the 1982 World Series championship team and would play 14 seasons until his retirement in 1996. He would be inducted into the NBHOF as a first-ballot induction in 2002.
These five men know what brand loyalty is. Too bad Pujols will never know what that is since he sold his soul and loyalty for more money, which unfortunately sports figures are highly overpaid anyway, whether you play 162 games or 16 to 20. Not to mention that he’ll never be like any of these Cardinal greats, despite his contributions to Cardinals Nation .
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