(PHOTO: DARRYL WEBB/Reuters)
Albert Pujols objects to his nickname, "El Hombre," as an advertising slogan for his MLB team, the Anaheim Angels.
Pujols, represented with the "El Hombre" moniker on 70 billboards in southern California, didn't like the nickname when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010, and said so.
"I feel the same way," the 32-year-old told The Los Angeles Times Wednesday. "I had nothing to do with [the billboards]. They haven't talked to me about it."
Pujols' "El Hombre" nickname comes from his stellar performance as a player -- he led the entire league in batting average with .328 and slugging percentage with .617 in 2011. In addition, he has the 37th most hits in MLB history, and has two World Series championships under his belt.
Still, he doesn't feel "El Hombre," or "The Man," is appropriate for him, when his predecessor and close friend, Stanley "Stan the Man" Musial, had the nickname first.
Hall of Famer "Stan the Man" Musial played for 22 years with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963. Considered to be one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, he was MVP three times, won three World Series championships, and had the most hits for someone who stayed on one team with 3,630.
His achievements extended off of the field as well. For the 1945 season, the outfielder missed baseball to serve in the Navy. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments.
Pujols feels it would be disrespectful to take Musial's nickname, even translated to Spanish.
"I prefer not to use that," he told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "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."
Tim Mead, the vice president of communications for the Angels, felt that the context of the "El Hombre" handle -- for an active Anaheim Angel versus a retired St. Louis Cardinal -- was justification for marketing reasons, if nothing else.
"He was saying, 'I'm not The Man, Stan Musial is,'" he told The Los Angeles Times. "We're marketing Albert Pujols, Angels' baseball. I think there's a tremendous difference in context."
Fortunately, the billboards, which cost upwards of $200,000 for the franchise, won't be up for long. After about two months, they will be removed.
"That's typically our media strategy," said Robert Alvarado, vice president of marketing and ticket sales for the team. "We do a lot to gear up on the front end of the year to create a lot of buzz. Once the season starts, the buzz is created on the field."