Since debuting on June 3, 2013 at Dodger Stadium, there hasn’t been a more polarizing player in Major League Baseball than Yasiel Puig. Even if you love him or hate him, he is here to stay. The rookie phenomenon has bat flipped his way into the hearts of many, but others are ripe with jealousy and bitterness toward the Cuban outfielder. Some Giants fans are even calling for him to be beaned on purpose. Some haters are just unimpressed. The hate mail keeps pouring in from around the division, but perhaps these other teams need to focus on winning instead of what Yasiel Puig is saying or not saying or who he is looking at. The Giants fans seem to forget a certain arrogant slugger who used to sit back and watch his homeruns leave the park then slowly flip his bat and trot around the bases.
Flipping his bat after leaving the batter’s box has caused the Puig haters to stir with contempt. How can he be so arrogant they
ask. He needs to learn how to be professional and not so immature. They have taken his bat flip out of context. Yasiel’s bat flip is not something he does to be a show-off, which he has every right to do by the way. It’s part of his style. It’s part of his routine. If you watched the World Baseball Classic this past summer, you saw the machismo and strong sense of masculine pride some of the Latin baseball players emit. Don’t take it personal. Now Hanley clapping toward Gerardo Parra or showing off his chiseled abs after the Dodgers won against Arizona Wednesday night is a different story. Those gestures were aimed directly at the slithery Snakes, but Yasiel’s bat flip isn’t aimed at anyone particular unless you count his hat tip to his family, friends, and fans of his home country which he plays for.
The D-backs seemed to think Yasiel’s frustration after he failed to make a diving catch during the seventh inning of game two was another moment of arrogance. Immaturity, perhaps. It was more of a feeling of frustration with himself for not making the play. He threw his glove angrily, and I can’t say it wasn’t childish, but I will say I appreciate his emotional involvement in the game. Some players act as if they don’t care when they blow a game in the ninth inning or when they drop a ball in the outfield. Puig cares, he really does. It’s refreshing to see a young player play with such vigor and all-out effort. Some of these bitter veterans should take note (*cough* Papelbon *cough*).
If you take the attitude out of the Puig, you take the baking soda out of the cake. It just won’t work. I for one am enjoying his antics and aggressive play. He may get caught trying to stretch a double out of a single, but it was sure exciting watching him try, right? Like Dee Gordon‘s speed, Puig’s ferocity for the game has the ability to fluster opponents. This gives the Dodgers an added edge. The league became aware of his cannon arm and self-confidence within his first week as a Dodger. It’s time to accept Puig’s personality and move on to actually trying to contain his baseball prowess. In 34 games, the 22-year old is hitting .407 with 8 homeruns, 19 RBIs, 8 doubles, and a triple. He has collected 55 hits in his first 135 at-bats. Puig will be tormenting rival teams for many years to come, and you can either dwell on his reluctance to talk with the media and other personality cues, or you can try to get him out on the baseball diamond.
Yasiel Puig should be an All-Star. The All-Star Game is an exhibition for the fans, it’s essentially a popularity contest. This isn’t a #VotePuig post, although you should really go do that, but the excitement and dialogue he has stirred up within the world of baseball should be showcased for all to see in the All-Star Game. Not only is it good for the National League who will gain Puig’s bat, but it is also a way to shine light on the trove of baseball talent that is in Cuba.
I for one never thought Puig was going to be this good right out of the gate. Even though he will not continue to hit over .400 the whole season, Dodger fans have something to be excited about and they have every right to be. There hasn’t been a position prospect this good come up since Matt Kemp. Puig reminds me of a young Raul Mondesi rather than a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. The Puig haters have to remember that Puig grew up in Cuba, and he escaped the hold of Castro and risked his life to make his dream come true of playing baseball in America. His arrogance and aggressive play was formed on the streets of Cienfuegos, Cuba. Let’s relish in his birth-given talents, and watch as he matures as a player and a person. You can take the Puig out of Cuba, but you can’t take the bat flip out of the Puig.