Yasiel Puig seems to have taken up the mantle of the current superstar athlete that sportswriters would most like to fix in some way or another. If a current report from Ken Rosenthal on Foxsports.com is to be taken at 100% face value, maybe the Dodgers players are fed up with his playing-better-than-everybody-this-side-of-Trout-and-Cabrera act, as well. I mean, sure, you could see Puig showing up as more or less a mystery man as a rookie and then proceeding to hit .340/.400/.550 and think, “that’s really good!” But you know what would really help the Dodgers, who were a listing ship before Puig got called up and Hanley Ramirez came off the DL within a few days of each other? If Puig were just a little bit better.
Look, Puig makes a lot of dumb baserunning mistakes and he probably trusts his arm just a little bit too much but the impression you get from reading Rosenthal’s column is that the Dodgers got together as a team and made the kid apologize in front of the whole roster, the training staff, the front office, and the coaches for being such a supreme jerk and costing the team dearly. It seems more likely that Rosenthal saw Puig make a dumb play and then went to each and every player he could to get some damning quotes. I didn’t really get what it was that turned Puig into a bad guy overnight but the impression I’m given is that he isn’t much of a quote machine and he doesn’t smile at the writers in the locker room or some such nonsense.
There is probably nothing that needs to be done to “fix” Puig. Donnie Baseball himself is in the article saying that there are some things that can be done better but overall the kid has been an absolute dream to coach and to watch. But if you cue ominous music and read the quote in an anchor’s voice you get: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, meeting with the FOX broadcasters before the game, said it has been “a little bit of a struggle” to get Puig to concentrate on the fundamental aspects of his game.
Please, for the love of god, baseball writers, take a cue from the derision that you and your ilk display when an umpire makes a dramatic call (#umpshow) and understand that nobody is watching baseball to see what Ken Rosenthal has to say about it. Puig is an awesome talent that came as much out of nowhere as a Major League player can these days. There’s no reason to go poking around for flaws just yet. The kid could be another Bo Jackson or he could be another Vlad Guerrero or he could even be another Raul Mondesi or he could end up one of a kind. A lot of the ink being spilled on him right now is just so much useless hand-wringing, though, and I’d much rather read about Puig’s development or his tools than read some weird shaming piece.
Unprompted product placement: Sam Adams in a can is a pretty good buy. I’m working through a 12-pack right now and I’m pleasantly surprised that somebody would spend market research into such a seemingly simple thing. I am one to be taken in by marketing speak but I think Jim Koch was mostly telling the truth when he did the PR rounds about his struggles to find the perfect can. I think I might actually prefer it to the bottle.
Back to the hatred for a dumb article: I feel like the basic thesis of Rosenthal’s article and the major bulk of what is being printed about Puig in recent weeks is akin to the Scientology ideal that you are born broken and have to be fixed by whatever magical process that a guy with the answers can sell to you. I don’t know if my analogy goes quite far enough into left field or if it’s just murky and muddled but as somebody that was once upon a time awash in a sea of Scientology mailers (that were apparently supposed to go to a guy that was at one point in time shelling out some dough for e-meter readings and books and things) that was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the article. So, anyway, Yasiel Puig = awesome. Just let that be good enough, please?