You'd think a $250 million contract would be enough for a guy to overlook a few of the things he doesn't like about his employer.
But Albert Pujols is already objecting to the "El Hombre" billboards that have recently been posted by the Los Angeles Angels around Southern California. The Halos' star first baseman had previously told his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, that he felt uncomfortable being called by the nickname because its English translation "belonged" to Stan "The Man" Musial. Pujols had a close relationship with the greatest Cardinal of all time before bolting to the Angels and a 10-year contract this offseason.
"Like I say, I haven't talked to (the Angels), but I prefer not to use (El Hombre)," Pujols said Wednesday. [...]
"I still have the same respect for [Musial] as I had, not just for what he's done in baseball but for what he did for his country [...] That's something you have to appreciate."
Just so you have this straight, Pujols is a little ticked that the Angels didn't know about a request that was only a minor news item in St. Louis a few years back. And he's also not happy with some promotional billboards the team put up, even though he or his agent never said anything to the team about them. The nerve! (An Angels spokesperson tells ESPN LA that the "El Hombre" billboards are only part of the team's 2012 campaign.)
Look, I understand where Pujols is coming from here. His respect for Musial is admirable and he's done a very good job of paying homage to those who have come before him.
At the same time, "El Hombre" is not the same nickname as "The Man." Its literal meaning might be the same, sure, but I've always viewed "El Hombre" as a takeoff on Musial's moniker — a clever acknowledgement that Pujols was busy rewriting the record books like Musial did in the 1940s and '50s.
Perhaps Pujols isn't a big fan of subtlety, but with 445 career homers and the Angels franchise hitching its entire cart to him until he's 42 years old, it's about time to acknowledge that he's a hombre in the exact same way that Musial was.
And if the Angels want to market him that way? So be it.
They're certainly paying for the right.
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