The Los Angeles Dodgers headline move this trade deadline was dealing three young pitching prospects in Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes and Jharel Cotton for a pair of Oakland Athletics, starter Rich Hill and right fielder Josh Reddick. This trade was met with a general “meh” from most of the fan base and the move has been discussed ad nauseam.
However, news surfaced after the deadline passed that was far more interesting to most Dodger fans. It was reported that the team had told Yasiel Puig that he would be traded or sent to the minors, and the team stuck to their word as he did not make the trip with them to Colorado, and instead packed his bag for Oklahoma City. This came after months of murmurs and rumors that Puig was on his last legs as a Dodger and was more than likely going to be shipped out come trade deadline time. The addition of Reddick all but sealed the deal and the Wild Horse was no longer with the Dodgers at the major league level.
Many fans have grown tired of the Puig drama, and honestly, it’s hard to blame them. Ever since he shotgunned into the league, the microscope has been on him like no other player in the MLB, and it’s not even really close. Every move he made was scrutinized and criticized and he was lambasted for not playing the game the “right” way…whatever that means. Since his arrival in 2013, the media has made him out to be some kind of loose cannon who doesn’t care about the game and handles situations incorrectly and doesn’t have the look or demeanor of a “true professional”…again, whatever that means.
It made fans forget that he did things like this:
And yes, that was a while ago, and yes he has had his fair share of injuries and inconsistencies and on occasion does things that make you wonder what exactly he was thinking. But, guess what? I don’t for one second care about any of that. Maybe it’s shortsighted of me and perhaps it’s nostalgia or some other overwhelming force in me, but I still cannot for the life of me figure out why he garners the hate that he does. It doesn’t make sense. He’s 25, playing baseball for a living and is a having good time doing it. Sue him. Maybe he is the “the worst person I’ve ever seen in this game. Ever.” as a mystery teammate once said (For what it’s worth, without any facts to back up this statement, I’d put my money on the unnamed player being Mark Ellis, but that’s neither here nor there).
If he really is the worst person ever and we get some kind of concrete evidence of that, then sure, I’ll recant. I’ll stop defending him so vigorously and I’ll agree with the majority of other fans that his time in LA should probably be over. But until we get anything of that sort, I refuse to believe that he is as bad a guy as he is made out to be. Perhaps it’s because I’m 20 and like the antics and passion and didn’t grow up in an era where baseball was stuffy and the utterly freaking ridiculous “unwritten rules” reigned supreme. Or perhaps it’s because I grew up watching basketball and football as well, where outlandish celebrations are common practice and you don’t have to put your head down and be afraid to express joy in your own success lest you run the risk of retaliation from some stupid opposing pitcher, looking at you Bumgarner.
Or perhaps it’s because that half a season after Yasiel Puig debuted was probably the best I’ve ever seen the Dodgers play and it was definitely when I saw them have the most fun. We had that fabled 42-8 stretch, Hanley and Puig were doing their own thing, Uribe and Ryu were the most #RelationshipGoals couple I have ever seen and watching the Dodgers brought such joy to everyone around the city. It was something that I had never witnessed before and it made me fall in love with baseball in a way that I didn’t think was possible and it’s a big reason why I currently care so much about the Dodgers. He immediately became my favorite player, he is still my favorite player and he will remain my favorite player until the day he hangs his cleats up, sporting Dodger blue or not.
I don’t know if we’ve seen the last of Yasiel Puig in a Dodgers uniform, but if you read the numerous reports from around the league, it would certainly appear that way. If that is true, saying I will be immensely disappointed would be a gross understatement. Not since the Lakers traded Shaq will I have felt so personally betrayed and hurt by a sports move. All signs point to him being done with the Dodgers and I’m having a rather difficult time accepting this. But, that is sometimes how sports goes and the teams you love do things that confuse and or anger you and you have to live with it. I’m always going to love the Dodgers and I’m always going to love Yasiel Puig. Stats and old, white players telling him how he’s going about everything wrong be damned, I don’t care. Nothing short of a World Series victory is going to replicate the feelings I had for the Dodgers in the Summer of 2013, and that is largely due to Puig.
So, keep bat flipping, keep running into outs, keep missing cut-off men, keep wearing your Vinny cleats, and most importantly, keep doing things your own way. It’s gotten you this far, so why stop now? As someone who also takes pride in marching to the beat of their own drum (my nails are currently painted bright sparkly purple, much to the chagrin of most of my friends and family) I especially appreciate this facet of his game and personality. It may not end up working out with the Dodgers, but I would be shocked if we didn’t see him land somewhere else and once again become that spark plug and beacon of hope and excitement that he was for us. I hope I haven’t seen the last of Yasiel Puig in a Dodgers uniform, but, if I have, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every last second of it.
No matter what happens over the coming months, he’ll always have a fan in me and I’ll always be grateful for the copious amounts of personal joy he’s brought into my life, and even if no one else wants to admit it, the entire city of Los Angeles.
So, Mr. Yasiel Puig, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You.
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