If you don’t know who Albert Pujols is, you should: he’s probably the best hitter in baseball, a slugging first baseman whose career so far has already guaranteed him a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Over the winter he left his original team and the city that worshiped him, St. Louis and its Cardinals, because, though the team he professed to “owe everything” offered him a deal that would guarantee that his great-grand children could be beach bums all their lives, a team in Southern California, the Angels, offered him even more, so he can light his cigars with C-notes and pave his driveway with gold.. I think elevating money over every other value to that extent is an unethical and culturally corrupting choice, and said so at the time.
Now Albert has re-endeared himself to me by publicly objecting to the Angels’ pre-season promotional campaign calling him “El Hombre.” “What?” you say. “I thought you have been condemning political correctness in the discussion of athletes with ethnic identities! Don’t you think it’s ridiculous for Pujols, who is of Hispanic descent, to object to a nickname that plays on his heritage?” Indeed I have been condemning such political correctness and over-sentivity, and still do. But that isn’t why Albert is objecting.
Back in St. Louis, you see, they also tried to call Pujols “El Hombre,” in a deliberate evocation of the city’s most famous and celebrated slugger, the great Stan “The Man” Musial, one of the best and most admirable players in baseball history. Pujols put a stop to it. There was only one player in the city who could carry the title “The Man”, he said, and that was Musial, who is alive and in his 90′s. Just saying “the Man” in a different language didn’t change the fact that the honor was Musial’s, and shouldn’t be taken away. Stan Musial was and is “the Man;” Pujols respected that, and defended it Continue reading