Baseball player Albert Pujols wears an Angels cap after he is introduced by the Los Angeles Angels during a news conference at Angels Stadium in Anaheim

Angels say they’ve “handled” the “El Hombre” billboards that Albert Pujols didn’t like


Last week Albert Pujols expressed his displeasure with the Angels’ marketing campaign that used billboards bearing his face and the “El Hombre” nickname that he’s never liked being associated with and now the team has responded.

Angels president John Carpino told Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles that the situation has been “handled” and after speaking to Pujols’ agent there are no further plans to use the nickname on anything.

For now at least the billboards remain up in about 20 locations around California, but Carpino said: “If it caused embarrassment for Albert out of respect for Stan Musial, that’s the only concern of ours. Stan is a baseball icon. It was just an aggressive marketing campaign.”

Carpino revealed that the Angels received negative e-mails from fans about the billboards, but added that there hasn’t been “any fallout.” Pujols has said in the past that he didn’t approve of the nickname because Musial is “The Man” in St. Louis and he respects his legacy too much to use “El Hombre.”

Ultimately this is far from a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just surprising and a little weird that the Angels didn’t know about his stance on the nickname before deciding to plaster it all over town. Or knew and just didn’t care. Either way.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.