This is going to be a tough column to write – it is because in my heart I know. Indeed barring the unforeseen, in the weeks or months to come; one of my favorite Los Angeles Dodgers ever will no longer be a part of the spectacle. And what a spectacle he has been: every tongue-wagging, daring, unpredictable, do something to make you shake your head moment.
These are the last days of Yasiel Puig, if you’re reading between the lines or even if you aren’t; the Dodgers are going to move on from The Wild Horse and are actively trying to do so.
According to a source, the Dodgers are actively trying to trade Yasiel Puig and/or Matt Kemp.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 12, 2018
Moreover, maybe it’s okay. Of course, it’s not okay with me; but it never would be. In the world I live in, I would want Puig to play until he’s 45 years of age. Long after he’s providing positive value to a ball club – to my ball club – I would want him in right field. When he no longer crashed into sidewalls with reckless abandon or gunned down runners or missed cut off men fiercely, I would still want to call him mine.
And I would make a terrible general manager. It’s fair to say that with the rare player – I love too hard. Yasiel Puig has earned his place in my heart to be one of those guys.
Furthermore, one of my favorite pieces I’ve written on this site was on why Dodgers fans love Puig. This is what I said when I ended that column.
In a number of other big league cities, mountains would be moved for a fan base to have a player who entertains on a nightly basis like Puig. Nevertheless, I’m not sure that there is a city more perfectly suited to showcase him than The City of Angels. Something about Puig rounding the bases with reckless abandon – late in the night after all other games have gone final – seems like the correct synthesis within the baseball world.
It’s been special watching this guy grow up – and growing up along with him. I talk a lot about players who can make you feel. Puig is more than that. Rarely do those players who make you feel also serve to entertain with such ease. Yasiel Puig does both and you get the feeling it’s without being a try hard.
Something about my life attached to baseball won’t be right anymore when I can’t turn on the television after midnight to see Puig taking that extra base. Picking the pocket of the opposition, putting pressure on the other team without design. Doing something that should get a base coach fired. This player will never outrun the mark within him – but that mark all in the same is what makes him a little bit special.
I took the Dodgers to task the other day for supposedly involving Cody Bellinger in trade talks. Overwhelmingly, I feel that would be a mistake. In this case, I’m not so sure.
Sometimes, it’s just time for two parties to move on for one reason or another. Like a struggling couple hanging on only for reasons of time spent and complacency – it might be just time. While I want to keep the Wild Horse captive at Chavez for a while longer, people smarter than me have deemed that not doing so can lift the team to new heights.
If this is the end – I have done this right. I’ve defended the guy, savored him, loved him, and really soaked in every moment. When I call someone a ‘ballplayer’, it’s the ultimate sign of respect I can pay to a player. Puig is not only that, but a true warrior. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he’s grown to love playing in Los Angeles. He plays with flavor and pride that some will never be able to. And that’s why we love him back. He’s that bad puppy dog that goes to the bathroom on your favorite throw rug. You’ll be a little upset for a minute, then you’ll want to hug him and scratch his belly an hour later.
My favorite Puig moment? It actually wasn’t on the field of play. It was heading into game six of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros. The team was wavering after the game five no one could forget. The loss of a lifetime. And what did Puig do? Something only Yasiel Puig could do. Something no one else would do at that moment.
He told Justin Verlander – unhittable to that point – that the Dodgers were coming for him in game six. That Verlander was going to be in for the ride of his life at the hands of the Dodgers. Puig guaranteed a game seven – and he made me believe. It was a shot in the arm that the team needed, and they delivered just as Puig said.
I will miss you Yasiel, and I love you. Thank you. There will be no expiration date on the memories you’ve left in my mind and heart.
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