If baseball fans ever wanted to hate a team because of its name, the sheer stupidty of doing business as the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” would suffice. Yet 10 years ago, it seemed this n’er do well franchise was becoming a force to be reckoned with: with one of the game’s brightest young managers, deep pockets, and a stocked farm system, the Angels seemed poised to challenge the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for American League superiority. Alas, that never happened.
The front office made a series of bizarre personnel decisions affecting the Major League roster while simultaneously failing to develop many of their prospects. Meanwhile, the young genius manager became old, obstinant, and controlling quite fast. Each off-season, fans sat around and waited for the Angels to do something stupid: trade for Vernon Wells, sign (and subsequently re-sign) Bobby Abreu, add another Southern California region to their name, etc. Despite the astute hire of Jerry Dipoto as the team’s GM, observers in 2011 weren’t disappointed when the team committed over $300M to free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. At the time of the signings, Pujols was coming off of the worst season of his career and Wilson had just finished only his second season as a full-time starting pitcher. Both players are over the age of 30, so there ain’t a lot of ceiling left. Owner Arte Moreno (seriously, dudes named “Arte” or “Artie” just can’t be trusted) predicated the signing of Pujols as not just a significant event for the team, but rather a cultural phenomenon for Hispanic baseball fans, Angels fans, and oh hell, all of Southern California in general. In other words, “I’ll market anything to make money off this.” I guess he should have checked with Pujols about that first:
But one segment of the [Pujols marketing] campaign has run afoul of the player’s wishes. The Angels have 20 billboards around Southern California with Pujols pictured in an Angels uniform alongside the Spanish words, “El Hombre.”
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 Pujols to a 10-year, $250 million contract in December.
Big surprise. Maybe the marketing people should have done a little research — it wouldn’t have been hard since the quite-respectful Pujols has mentioned his preference not to be referred to in that way over and over and over again.
Chalk this up as just another example of how this would-be juggernaut franchise just can’t seem to get out of its own way (Sound familiar, Dodger fans? Seriously, what’ s up with LA baseball?). Not a good omen. At least they have 10 more years to figure it out.