Albert Pujols and Me: A Diary of One Man’s Journey Through the Highs and Lows of the Winter MeetingsBy
If you had asked me a few short days ago how I felt about the Marlins offseason, I would’ve high-fived you and screamed like a little girl. After all, it’s kind of hard to not like the best closer on the market and one of the top three free agents in baseball. It’s even harder to not like it when it seems like your team is willing to spend an exorbitant amount of money to get it done, something nobody expected at the end of last year. Oh, and did I mention they were also on the verge of signing possibly the greatest player in the history of baseball? You could understand my enthusiasm.
But, here we are, just forty-eight hours later, and I find myself sinking lower in my once-comfy chair, broken, defeated, a strange mix of confusion and depression oozing from my pores.
So, what the heck happened?
(All times are approximates.)
Dec 6, 8:00AM: I wake up in the morning, fire up the Twitter machine and find out that the Marlins are the frontrunners in the Albert Pujols sweepstakes. Reports had already come out that the team was going to make a strong push for the slugger, so that wasn’t much of a surprise, but finding out that they were already in the driver’s seat? You’d be hard-pressed to find a morning that starts off better than that.
My first action of the day was to taunt long-time Cardinals fan, Will Leitch, founder of Deadspin and a man I’ve exchanged taunting emails with in the past. He seemed to be on the verge of a meltdown and on this day, kicking a man while he’s down just seemed like the appropriate thing to do.
Dec 6, 11:00AM: David Villavicencio reports that “according to multiple sources, Albert Pujols will sign with the Miami Marlins.” I immediately begin to hyperventilate. And strip. Around the same time, maybe a little earlier, it’s reported that Hanley Ramirez is unhappy with his impending move to third. At this point, there are no quotes from either Hanley or his agent, so I immediately dismiss the rumor and go back to jubilantly running naked through my office.
Dec 6, 1:00PM: Hanley Ramirez, the Twitter Leprechaun, shows up to the party, presumably to put these silly rumors to bed. He doesn’t. Luckily for Hanley, I’m still high as a kite from the Pujols news, as is everybody else, so we all laugh with the crazy, crazy man who’s clearly not at all upset about his change of position and the fact that there are about to be two high-profile players on “his” team making more money than him. Everything is totally fine. Totally.
Meanwhile, other people are discussing the Marlins lack of pitching. For the life of me, I can’t even begin to understand why you would need pitching when you plan on scoring 40 runs a night.
Dec 6, 2:00PM: The Marlins front office is now heading into a meeting with Dan Lozano, Albert Pujols’ agent. I’m pretty sure this meeting involves cake and confetti.
Dec 6, 3:00PM: ESPN Deportes is now reporting that Hanley is upset with the move to third. Oh, Jesus…
Dec 6, 4:00PM: Joe Capozzi reports that Marlins officials say “Hanley Ramirez has NOT asked to be traded.” Whew! False alarm. See? Albert Pujols makes everyone happy. Especially me. I’m now taunting my Mets fan brother via text message.
Dec 6, 6:00PM: Ozzie Guillen goes on 790 the Ticket with Dan Le Batard and says all of the right things about Hanley Ramirez, which scares the heck out of me because when people say all of the right things, they’re usually not saying all of the true things. Again, though, I’m in a good mood and with no comment from either Hanley or his agent still, I’m more than willing to ignore the drama. I’m also home now, so my pants are around my ankles and I’m covered, head-to-toe, in peanut butter. Hey, you celebrate your way, I’ll celebrate mine.
Dec 6, 9:00PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that “Loria, Samson, Hill just went in to meet with Dan Halem of commissioner’s office.” Obviously, they’re just going to finalize the deal, drink some champagne and call it a day. Joe Frisaro confirms my suspicions when he tweets, “Marlins fans be on high alert. Could be a historic night.” Buster Olney adds, “The meeting of MLB official Dan Haslem and Marlins officials tonight was about the Pujols contract.”
I’m so confident that Albert Pujols is going to be a Miami Marlin that I begin Photoshopping some of the greatest pictures ever. If Cloud 9 were a real place, it’d be the basement of the building I’m standing on top of at this very moment.
Dec 6, 9:30PM: I decide that, since I’m just waiting around for Pujols to sign the paperwork at this point, I might as well begin drinking so that I’m in the right frame of mind to run out in the streets with pots and pans when the appropriate time comes.
Dec 6, 9:45PM: There’s a third team. There’s a what?!? My happy drunkeness slowly begins to fade and I start to feel more like a helpless alcoholic than a man imbibing for pleasure. Why is there a third team? Who is this mystery team? How do you just sneak into a room with a $200m offer without anyone ever realizing anything? Why am I drinking chocolate wine?
Dec 6, 10:00PM: I begin singing songs from the Jewel catalog. Meanwhile, Joe Frisaro reports that “four boxes of pizza and some wings are headed to Marlins suite.” I’ve been to fantasy football drafts, so I know that ordering a ton of pizza means that nobody’s going anywhere for a while. Maybe it’s the alcohol in my system, but this is the first time all day that I’ve been genuinely concerned about the possibility of this deal falling through.
Dec 6, 11:00PM: It’s obvious that a deal isn’t getting done tonight, and I’ve spent the entire day staring at a computer screen, waiting for something to happen and accomplishing nothing in the process, so I’ve decided to go to sleep. I’m no longer the happy blogger I was earlier in the day. No, now I’m a terrified blogger, a blogger who remembers this same feeling from a few years back, when the Marlins were this close to trading for Manny Ramirez at the deadline. This whole experience seems all too familiar.
I toss and turn for most of the night and when I wake up, it’s like I haven’t slept at all. This day is going to be brutal.
Dec 7, 9:00AM: If you were to go back and try and pinpoint the exact moment my sadness turned to rage, it was right about here. Word on the street is that Albert Pujols’ people were simply using the Marlins to drive up the price on the Cardinals. Ouch.
Literally twenty-four hours earlier, I was mocking Will Leitch for what looked like it was going to be an epic Twitter meltdown, and here I was, about to partake in one of my own.
Dec 7, 11:00AM: I’m a mess. This whole thing fell apart so fast, my brain hasn’t even had a chance to process any of the information. The Marlins can still go after Prince Fielder, but I don’t care. I had my eyes set on Pujols. Have you ever spent the week before Thanksgiving imagining your grandmother’s stuffing, only to arrive at her house on Turkey Day and find out that she experimented with some new recipe she saw on the Food Network? That’s kind of how I feel. Sure, Prince is pretty much the same player as Albert and a smarter investment, but I was expecting my grandmother’s stuffing! You can’t just change these things on me. I need a warning first.
Dec 7, 11:30AM: I’m coming around on Fielder. Maybe. I think. No, wait, I’m not. Jesus, I don’t know what I feel. I’m so confused.
Dec 7, 11:45AM: Clark Spencer reports that if the Marlins don’t get Pujols, “look for them to go hard for Buehrle ASAP.” I’m legitimately depressed now. If there were a kitten in front of me, I’d be too sad to punch it.
Dec 7, 12:00PM: Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Cubs have entered the Pujols sweepstakes. I tell Ken Rosenthal that I hate his face.
Dec 7, 1:00PM: The Jose Reyes press conference provides a much-needed break from the ups and downs of the Pujols debacle. He smiles and laughs and for a few minutes, I remember that the Marlins are going to be just fine, that they still landed one of the best players in baseball, and that they’re going to pair him with one of the other best players in baseball. Oh, and there’s Mike Stanton, too. Maybe everything is going to be okay.
Dec 7, 3:00PM: Reports are coming in that the Marlins are officially out of the Albert Pujols race. I’m sad again. I watch as people try to cheer each other up with thoughts of Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson, but it’s not working for me. Reyes, Hanley, Pujols and Stanton. I can’t get that lineup out of my head and it hurts. Like, a real deep hurt that forms in the pit of your stomach and makes it hard to do anything other than mope around and feel awful about yourself. If you were to look at me, you’d think my girlfriend just broke up with me.
Dec 7, 4:00PM: Buster Olney reports that a source claims “Hanley Ramirez’s rep asked the Marlins for a restructured deal. MIA upset with this, will now be looking to trade Hanley.” I’m now sick to my stomach. Depression again turns to anger as I lash out against the man I’ve staunchly defended throughout his entire career. I don’t even know if the news is true yet, but I’m not all that concerned with waiting around for that information. I’m in a bad place.
Yesterday this team was Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez. Now, it’s just Reyes. From rockstars to rock bottom in less than 48 hours.
Dec 7, 5:00PM: Hanley comes back on Twitter to show everyone a picture of how happy he is. He doesn’t bother to dispel any of the rumors. I’m so over him it’s not even funny.
Dec 7, 5:30PM: The Marlins sign Mark Buerhle. I shrug, unmoved by the news. It isn’t my fault, though. I’ve been beaten down. I’m numb.
So, here I sit on a Wednesday night, slumped over, a broken man trying to pick up the pieces and separate his true feelings from the irrational ones that have pervaded his mind for the better part of forty-eight hours.
The Marlins are in a better place right now than they’ve been in a long, long time. I understand that. They’ve got a lineup with Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Mike Stanton, a rotation with Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and the possibility of C.J. Wilson, and they might not even be done. Maybe they failed to land Albert Pujols, but it’s hard to argue that Jeffrey Loria and David Samson haven’t completely owned these winter meetings.
I should be thrilled with this, I know, but I’m not. Not yet, anyway. This emotional roller coaster has taken too much out of me. It’s zapped me of all positivity. It might take a few days, maybe even a few weeks, to snap out of it and fully appreciate what the Marlins have done this week, but for now, all I can see is Albert Pujols extending a giant middle finger in my general direction. I hate you, Albert Pujols. I hate you, mystery team that probably doesn’t even exist outside of Dan Lozano’s evil, twisted mind. But most of all, I hate feeling this way. I just want to feel normal again.
Oh, and don’t worry, Ken Rosenthal. I don’t hate your face. That was just the Pujols talking.
(Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images)