Apr 2, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) prior to the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Benching Puig Is Not The Answer

While Stacie and I were sitting in traffic for hours, or so it seemed, unbeknown to us, Yasiel Puig had shown up late to the ball park, and manager Don Mattingly Benched him. Originally the Dodgers had Puig starting in his usual right field position, and Matt Kemp activated, but on the bench.

Puig is very talented, but at times, can be a handful-Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

Personally I don’t understand why Kemp wasn’t in the lineup to begin with. Why sit him for another day? He’s sat long enough. I mean, you’re at home, it’s opening day, what better chance to start him? Well, he got his start anyways, as Puig was being disciplined.

So as a result of Puig’s mistake, Kemp started in center and batted second, Andre Ethier was in right field, and Carl Crawford in left. But back to Puig, The Cuban phenom did not get into the game at all. So what actually happened?

Apparently, Puig was late for batting practice. But get this, he was a measly 15 minutes late. I’m sure all the Puig haters are loving this opportunity to jump all over this with huge overreactions. Puig is a child! They’ll say. They’ll come up with ridiculous ways of punishing him. Bench him! They’ll demand. Or even more retarded, Send him to Albuquerque! News flash Puig haters, he’s under major league contract, you can’t send him to Albuquerque. And let me tell you something else, the club is not going to trade him, ever.

I don’t understand what the huge deal is here. Ok, so Puig was late, he got benched for it, now let’s all move on. The sorry thing about the whole situation is, not only is it being blown way out of proportion, it hurts the club more than it hurts Puig himself.

When Puig is benched for something trivial like this, it makes the club weaker. The Dodgers might have won Friday afternoon had Puig been in the lineup. Puig is not a child, he’s an adult, and it’s unfair to the club to make him sit games because of these scenarios.

I’m not saying Puig is perfect or never makes mistakes. He’s messed up quite a few times. He was late to the ball park once before last season when the club was in Miami, and got benched and fined. He’s done a bit of show-boating, and missed some cut-off throws. But otherwise nothing major. Look, I don’t know why Puig was late. He told the media that he lost track of time, and forgot what time the game was. Which to be fair, could happen to anyone.

If I were a betting man, I would say he was probably stuck in traffic. This is Los Angeles, the traffic is horrible, no matter where you’re coming from. Stacie and I were stuck in traffic for over an hour after getting off of the off ramp to the stadium. This is common.

I’m not trying to make excuses for him. He’s a grown man, and it’s his responsibility to make it to the ball park on time, But let’s be honest here, does it really matter or hurt the team if he’s a few minutes late for batting practice?

Again, he wasn’t late to the game, he was late to batting practice, which normally starts at 10 AM. Puig showed up at about 10:15 AM. Big whoop.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone remember Dick Allen? The Dodgers big outfielder/first baseman who played with the club for a year back in 1971? The big outfielder was built like a brick-house, and he never took batting practice. As a matter of fact, he told the press that he didn’t believe in it, so he sat and watched his teammates from the stands while wearing his street clothes. What Puig did is nothing.

You think Puig is bad? Pfffft, eccentric pitcher Pascual Perez once got lost and couldn’t find his way to the ball park. This was on a day he was supposed to start, and it took him hours to navigate the Atlanta freeway system to finally make his way to Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. He actually ended up running out of gas, and arrived at the ball park ten minutes after the game had started. Needless to say, he didn’t get to pitch that day.

So you see, those are other examples of how it could be much worse. Puig isn’t that bad, and the stuff he is doing is normal for a 23-year old kid. Can you remember when you were in your early 20’s? I’m sure you do, and I am sure you were a few minutes late more than once.

The thing is, without Puig in the lineup, the Dodgers are a weaker team. There is no doubt about that. Mattingly said he would have used Puig in a pinch-hitting role if the chance arrived later in the game. Puig never got that chance.

Benching Puig doesn’t hurt Puig, it only hurts the club. The Dodgers have to ask themselves, what’s more important, disciplining Puig for trivial stuff? Or winning ball games? To be honest, Pugi is so incredibly talented, that I am willing to put up with a lot from him, in exchange for his skills. I have a high tolerance for Puig. More than most players. As a matter of fact, I don’t care if Puig is air-lifted into Dodger Stadium in a helicopter, as long as he’s in the starting lineup every day. Benching Puig is not the answer.

Next time the Dodgers should just make Puig sit in a time-out corner until he learns his lesson. Now Yasiel, go write on the blackboard one hundred times, I will not be late to batting practice.

Tags: Don Mattingly Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig

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