Sportress of Blogitude

Costly miscommunication: Albert Pujols still prefers not to be called ‘El Hombre’

Mind-blowing fact of the day: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have put their most significant free agent acquisition of the offseason, one Albert Pujols, front and center in their 2012 season media blitz. Unfortunately for the team, they did not consult Pujols about the manner in which they would be using him in said ad campaign, as the slugger recently expressed dissatisfaction that the Angels are referring to him as “El Hombre” in promotional materials, including the moniker’s presence on 70 billboards that have been erected throughout Southern California. Oops.

Pujols-ophiles may recall that the first baseman was not reticent in the least as it pertained to folks referring to him as “El Hombre” during his time in St. Louis, as he perceived it to be a slight on Cardinals legend Stan Musial, who was nicknamed “The Man.” Apparently, those feelings have not changed:

“I feel the same way,” Pujols said before Wednesday morning’s workout in Tempe Diablo Stadium. “I had nothing to do with [the Angels billboards]. They haven’t talked to me about it.”

Is Pujols OK with the Angels using the nickname in the future?

“I haven’t made that decision, so I haven’t talked to them about it,” Pujols said, “but I prefer they not use that.”

The Angels organization is now forced into damage control on several fronts, one being not to offend or cause any unhappiness for the player they hope will lead the team all the way to the World Series, the other what exactly they are supposed to do with the 70 billboards springing up all over the place. That task has fallen at the feet of Tim Mead, Angels vice president of communications, who argues that the meaning of “El Hombre” carries a vastly different meaning in Los Angeles than it does in St. Louis:

“The reason he had those sentiments in St. Louis is different — they were out of respect and deference to someone else,” Mead said. “He was saying, ‘I’m not The Man, Stan Musial is.’ We’re marketing Albert Pujols, Angels baseball, and I just think there’s a tremendous difference in context.”

Fair enough. But next time, perhaps the Angels might want to check with Pujols concerning any future marketing blitzes. On the other hand, the Angels will be paying Pujols nearly a quarter billion dollars over the next decade, so as long as it isn’t done in an offensive nature (and why would they do that?), perhaps the team has every right to market the guy in any way they see fit in order to recoup the insane amount of money flowing out of the teams coffers straight into Pujols’ pocketbook.