UPDATE: Albert Pujols has arrived in Angels camp…and within 48 hours, he has appropriately objected to use of the “El Hombre” name on the L.A. billboard. Thank you, Albert. All (in this matter) is forgiven. Full props to Albert Pujols for remaining consistent in his outward respect of Stan Musial. Now, the pressure is on the Angels front office and marketing team to replace the billboard. Link to the story here: Albert_Pujols_Objects_to_El_Hombre_Billboards
While in St. Louis, Albert was reportedly reluctant to warm to the nickname, “El Hombre” due to a desire to show respect to Stan “The Man” Musial. Apparently there’s only one “The Man” in this town.
But it seems Albert adheres to the “Out of State, Out of Mind” philosophy (keep a close eye on your road-trippin’ husband, Dee Dee!).
Now firmly entrenched in the Angels’ organization, it would appear all deference to Stan Musial is out the window. Suddenly it’s okay to refer to himself as “The Man” – English translation or not. As you can imagine, the internet has been filled to bursting with opinions on this one. Shouldn’t Albert be allowed to use the nickname now that he’s out of state? Or is he a hypocrite for leaving the watchful glare of St. Louis Cardinals fans and immediately chucking his well-known respect for Stan Musial?
It’s time to weigh in…
When I say the name “Teddy Ballgame,” students of the game know I’m referring to Ted Williams. If I say “Jimmy Baseball,” Cardinals fans likely know I mean Jim Edmonds. But if I switch the two and accidentally say “Jimmy Ballgame”….whoa! Suddenly, the Contact link on my blog gets a workout (don’t believe me? I’ve seen it happen to others more prominent than myself).
Reverent fans of baseball know it’s a bad move to refer to Jim Edmonds using the nickname of perhaps the greatest hitter of all time. It’s disrespectful to Ted Williams, and it’s unfair to Jim Edmonds. But you know what’s interesting? Most of the fans that would be emailing me would be Cardinals fans…
But Ted Williams never played for the Cardinals.
Albert Pujols should know there’s only one “The Man” in baseball. As one of the greatest Hall of Famers to ever play the game, Stan Musial holds the rights to that nickname regardless of the language you use to express it, the uniform you wear when you hear it, or the city you play for when they use it. It’s Stan’s name and Stan’s alone. And Albert should know that.
Of course, some will say that the name “Teddy Ballgame” and “Jimmy Baseball” are similar and yet distinctive. Doesn’t that prove the name “El Hombre” is distinct enough from “The Man” to be used by Albert? Since Pujols’ billboard is in Spanish, doesn’t that make it okay?
You know…at one point in time, I would have agreed with that sentiment. But a while back I decided Albert’s own perspective was the correct one.
“I don’t want to be called that,” Pujols said. “There is one man that gets that respect, and that’s Stan Musial. He’s the Man. He’s the Man in St. Louis. And I know ‘El Hombre’ means ‘The Man’ in Spanish. But Stan is The Man. You can call me whatever else you want, but just don’t call me El Hombre.”
If Albert Pujols decided “El Hombre” and “The Man” were too close for comfort…then shouldn’t we? After all, if a Spanish-speaking family is discussing Stan Musial…would they call him “The Man”…or “El Hombre?”
So why the change, Albert? Why is it now okay to call you “El Hombre” if you were previously so adamant that it was NOT okay?
The only answer that makes sense to me is this: money and marketability.
When Albert moved to L.A., at least one report seemed to suggest he was overly concerned about going to a team that would “respect his legacy” and help him establish that legacy for decades to come. Combining that information with everything else we supposedly know to date, it would seem Pujols has simply decided to market himself in the most effective way possible – and that means being called “El Hombre.”
It all makes me wonder…
When Albert was in St. Louis, perhaps at least a part of him disliked the fact that he would never be “The Man” in his own home town. No matter what he did, Stan would always be “The Man” – even in a different language. Does that mean Albert, on some level and in some way, simply wanted to be the ONLY “The Man” in town?
It sure seems that way.
But as far as we’re concerned, there’s only one “The Man” in baseball – regardless of nationality, language, or city – and that’s Stan “The Man” Musial.