"Are you breathing, M.Z.?" That was my immediate question this morning to my GetReligion colleague -- and St. Louis Cardinals uber-fan -- Mollie Ziegler Hemingway as news broke that superstar first baseman Albert Pujols will sign a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. MZ, alas, remains out of wifi and Internet range -- although this story may reach her through some psychic or spiritual ripple in the universe.
As I have shared a time or two, I am a longtime Texas Rangers fan, so Pujols already played a major role in breaking my heart during the Cardinals' improbable World Series win in October. Now, he's headed to the Rangers' AL West rival.
An athlete leaving a city where he's beloved and signing a gigantic contract elsewhere wouldn't normally be fodder for GetReligion. But in Pujols' case, he's an outspoken evangelical Christian and frequently talks about the role that faith plays in his career, as Mollie has noted. We are in the midst of the Tim Tebow media tsunami, as well.
He "prayed" on his decision. Does anyone see the potential for a religion angle in the reporting on Pujols' mammoth contract?
For a primer on the questions likely on the minds of many evangelicals/baseball fans, Godbeat pro Tim Townsend of the St. Louis Post Dispatch covered them well earlier this year in a nice piece before the 2011 season even started. Townsend explored whether Christian athletes such as Pujols strike out on big-dollar contracts:
ST. LOUIS — As contract talks broke down between Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, St. Louis baseball fans began nervously asking themselves a host of questions.
He's a Cardinal for life, right?
He wouldn't go to Wrigley Field because he likes winning too much, right?
But a particular group of Cardinals fans—those who share his evangelical faith—was asking a different kind of question. What does holding out for the largest contract in the history of baseball say about Albert's Christian testimony?
It'll be interesting to see if — and how — the media tackle that question amid the obvious analysis on what Pujols' decision means to the Angels' — and the Cardinals' — pennant hopes. Will reporters ask Pujols about greed? Will they ask whether this contract will allow him to do more good works? Will they report what he says at his news conference concerning his faith?
This story is breaking now, so most of the reports right now are just the basic facts. Please help us follow the story by providing links of mainstream media reports that do — and do not — cover the highly relevant religion angle.
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting to hear back from my beloved colleague.
"Are you breathing, M.Z.?"
Albert Pujols photo via Shutterstock