When the Angels signed away Albert Pujols from the Cardinals at the price of $250 million over 10 years this past December, it was clear the franchise was seeking a new face in Anaheim.
‘Fans will pay to see ‘The Machine’ crush the stitching off baseballs,’ Angels’ brass most likely thought. ‘It’s good business and good business is great for everyone.’
But the Pujols marketing campaign sweeping across Southern California has not been devoid of hitches. According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, part of that marketing push has actually “run afoul” of the slugger’s wishes.
Twenty of the 70 billboards erected around Southern California are emblazoned with an image of Pujols and the Spanish words “El Hombre,” or “The Man,” next to it. That’s not sitting well with Pujols, who is of Dominican decent, and his reason for objecting the signs may not be the reason you’re thinking.
Pujols has asked not to be called that in deference to St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who was referred to as Stan “The Man” during most of his 22-year career.
The Angels said they did not consult Pujols or his agent before launching the campaign. It was planned shortly after the Angels signed the first baseman to a 10-year, $250 million contract in December.
“Like I say, I haven’t talked to them, but I prefer not to use (El Hombre),” Pujols said Wednesday.
It’s an emotional issue for Pujols because he became acquainted with 90-year-old Musial in his 11 seasons playing in St. Louis. In 2010, Pujols asked St. Louis media and fans not to call him “El Hombre.”
“I still have the same respect for him as I had, not just for what he’s done in baseball but for what he did for his country,” Pujols said. “That’s something you have to appreciate.”
As the ESPN article points out, Musial served in the Navy during World War II and is well-known and liked for his extensive contributions to various charitable organizations. Musial was awarded the Medal of Freedom last year, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead told ESPN that he is aware now of Pujols’ feelings but doesn’t believe they are directed at his team’s marketing initiatives. Mead said he has not spoken directly to Pujols and that the “El Hombre” signs are only a small part of the campaign’s “full-fledged focus.”
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