Here at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., the countdown clock to Albertageddon (hat tip to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) is now at about two hours and counting. At high noon, negotiations between the Cardinals and first baseman Albert Pujols will formally cease (although, as we noted yesterday, that doesn't mean they will necessarily die).

The headline on this post, admittedly, is a little misleading. Although it is true Pujols himself did not show up this morning (word is, he will be here tomorrow), Manager Tony La Russa did speak to the media -- he just didn't have much new to say about the Pujols negotiations.

"I'm all tapped out," he said. "[In] the last two days I've done more than enough talking. I don't have anything more to say."

That's no surprise. After yesterday's diatribe about the players' association, which La Russa claims is pushing Pujols to hold out for the top dollar -- a claim that only served to ratchet up the media hysteria surrounding this standoff -- La Russa wisely dialed it back today. Perhaps some higher-ups even suggested as much to him.

Still, La Russa couldn't quite help himself. Asked whether he stood by yesterday's comments, La Russa replied in the affirmative, adding, "It strains credibility to think there hasn't been any contact [between union leaders and Pujols's camp]. He's too significant."