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Remember when Yasiel Puig was gonna cost the Dodgers a playoff game with his recklessness?

Oct 4, 2013, 7:18 AM EDT

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game One Getty Images

Last night, Yasiel Puig‘s smart, heads-up base running got the Dodgers a run. His arm in right — and the manner in which he kinda deked Even Gattis as to whether he was gonna catch a ball and then throw — ended the Braves second inning when he doubled Gattis off first. It was quite a playoff debut for the Dodgers rookie.

Which makes it a perfect time to go down the memory hole. Specifically, back to August, when Yasiel Puig was supposed to be unsafe at any speed and was going to cost the Dodgers playoff games with his lack of discipline and unprofessionalism. First, Bill Plaschke:

Puig’s antics are the sort that will cost a team in a close game in October. For every playoff game that Puig wins with his bold arm or crazy legs, he could cost them two.

Then Jon Morosi:

Then Scott Miller:

Puig clearly has the talent to lead the Dodgers to an October title. And he clearly contains the recklessness to push the team bus straight over a cliff. Self-made man meets self-destruction, head on … with each home run and highlight-reel moment, the monster grows. Biggest question this season now is this: Can the Dodgers eke a Kirk Gibson moment out of Puig this October before they get a Frankenstein moment? … this late-night carousing, cutoff-man missing, curfew busting phenom borders on going berserk-o out of control.

I am about 95% certain that they will be followed up today by Plaschke, Morosi and Miller with some kind of “look how Puig has learned his lesson!” stuff. They’ll say the Dodgers did address it. That Puig has matured. That their lessons — which were mocked — mocked! — as alarmism went heeded and look how prescient we were. It’ll be an exercise in the authors of this narrative putting a nice little bow on a drama they have created.

Only problem: back in August, when Puig was a monster, the sentiment was that he was not going to learn his lesson because Don Mattingly did not bench him for an extended period of time. Again, Plaschke:

They needed to bench him Tuesday. But they couldn’t bear to bench him for the entire game.

He needs to learn. But Mattingly showed that he’s unwilling to possibly sacrifice a victory to finish the lecture … With one swing Puig won a game, but, in playing him, the Dodgers risked losing much more.

The others were likewise dissatisfied with the Dodgers not putting Puig in his place more authoritatively. And since August I am not aware of anyone reporting any changes in Puig or the Dodgers’ approach to him.

But no matter. I’m sure the “Puig is out of control caucus” will forget all of that. I’m sure that they will come forward today with some variation of “look how the wild horse has been tamed” and offer Puig’s coolheadedness, excellent defense and excellent base running last night as evidence that their hand-wringing over his attitude, defense and base running was totally warranted.

Or else they’ll just pretend they never said any of that because when you’re a kneejerk pundit it pays to have no memory of past positions.


  1. Anoesis - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    The talking heads doing the play-by-play for TBS gave lip service last night to the Puig-out-of-control narrative until he made his first-to-third dash and then doubled off Gattis. I found the strange chanting and arm-hacking by the crowd more irritating, perhaps because I don’t read any of the three “authors” mentioned. It was nice hearing the Barves fans give the Dodgers their due by chanting “L.A.” They were saying something along with it, but I couldn’t discern what it was. “Can’t beat L.A.?”

    • 2077james - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:10 AM

      The ‘Tomahawk Chop’ is annoying and awful and actually not that far removed from the Cleveland fans ‘red face’ that Craig was criticising the other day.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:36 AM

        I’ve never once endorsed the Tomahawk Chop and I have criticized it on multiple occasions.

  2. paperlions - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:42 AM

    Craig, Craig, Craig….don’t you know if you run aggressively and are safe that it is “smart base running”, but if you run aggressively and are out that it is “reckless base running”. Obviously, he learned his lesson…or something.

    One thing that occurred to me watching the energy-free Reds lose their game was that a Billy Hamilton bunt single followed by some electric base running sure could have changed the complexion of that game….of course, Choo and Ludwick were really the only guys that did anything offensively for the Reds as it was…so not like he would have replaced someone that was useless that game.

  3. hojo20 - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    It didn’t matter with Kershaw pitching.

  4. paperlions - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    Attendance in Atlanta for a night game 87.1% of capacity.

    Attendance in St. Louis for an afternoon game 103.9% capacity.

    • bravojawja - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      Oh look, the standard attendance bashing comes early, and in a thread that isn’t about the Braves.


      • spudchukar - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        Yawn all you want, but please explain to me why a city the size of Atlanta, cannot fill their stadium for a play-off game, and one the size of St. Louis can?

      • paperlions - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        It isn’t just that StL can….every other city can. Oakland probably can and that organization has shown nothing but disdain for the city for years now.

      • crookedstick - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:05 AM

        Because St. Louis has the “BEST FANS IN BASEBALL” dammit!!!! There is that the point you were getting at?

      • bravojawja - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        43,000+ on a late night school night isn’t good enough? That game didn’t end until midnight, and most of the people at the stadium then had a 45 minute drive home.

        As I and everybody else in Atlanta has explained over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Ad nauseum. But I guess you just prefer your overly-simplistic narrative to reality.

      • Paul Zummo - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        Atlanta isn’t the only east-coast team that has had to play a late night playoff game, but it sure is the only one that manages to regularly fall far short of a sellout.

      • mogogo1 - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        Talk about simplistic… Everything you mention applies to EVERY city, not just Atlanta. You go to bed earlier than other places? Or is the 45 minute drive to the park somehow longer or harder than what fans do in other cities? Other cities have fans taking the day off early to make afternoon games, meanwhile you can’t stay up late to attend yours.

      • bravojawja - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        The Braves are also the only East Coast team (other than the Yankees) whose stadium has a capacity of over 50,000. The Red Sox would give their left nut to get 43,000 packed into Fenway.

    • nelszz - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      hey paperlions, lets do some simple math

      bush stadium capacity = (rounding up) 47,000
      turner field capacity = 50,000 (rounding 6 seats down)

      1.039 x 47,000 = 48,883
      .871 x 50,000 = 43,550


  5. yankeepunk3000 - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    I thought what got it open was that two run two out blast by A-gon. or maybe Kershaw getting through 7 with 12 ks even without his best stuff but no, probally right that single really shook things up. One more thing, why do people keep given credit on the double play this was braves poor baserunning not an amazing defensive dive that surly would of been an out then a perfect shot back to get the runner at first. come on people let’s keep our pants on, I’m looking at you Craig.

    • davidpom50 - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      1. We’re talking about Puig’s base running on the hit AFTER his 1st single, when he went 1st to 3rd on a soft line drive. It directly led to the first Dodger run, and set the tone for the team.
      2. Turns out Gonzalez’s home run was totally unnecessary, as the Dodgers already had the 2 runs they’d need to win.
      3. You’re almost right about the throw to nail Gattis… except that the whole point of the article is that the Plaschkes, Millers, and Morosis of the world would have us believe that those are exactly the types of plays Puig is gonna screw up by throwing to the wrong base.

  6. amhendrick - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    “For every playoff game that Puig wins with his bold arm or crazy legs, he could cost them two.”

    So Puig winning the one game last night doesn’t really disprove Plaschke’s theory. I’m a Braves fan, so I hope Plaschke’s right and Puig costs the Dodgers the next two.

    • nbjays - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      You better hope so, because if they play like they did last night, the Braves sure as hell aren’t going to WIN the next two.

  7. spacemaker101 - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    I know right… Kershaw shut us down puig went 1st to third and doubled up even gattis haha so that means he was the MVP what a stupid article.

    • nbjays - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Oh look, Spacewaster is back with a space-wasting post.

  8. wwwocls - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    They’ve played one playoff game! ONE! There’s still plenty of time for him to screw up or be a hero or both or neither. That’s playoff sports. The love affair (lust?) with Puig by some media people borders on the creepy.

  9. sportsdrenched - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    Obligitory small sample size comment.

  10. MyTeamsAllStink - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    you know what’s good about this years playoff broadcasts on TBS?No Frank Caliendo promos!

    • Liam - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Also, a new avocado commercial. RIP to “that’s bush league, brah!”

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Nobody said he would screw up EVERY playoff game. And those were conditional statements. IF the Dodgers don’t do something, THEN Puig will cost them games. If I recall, Puig was benched a couple of times for disciplinary reasons. So thank goodness that’s all over with now.

  12. vintage1496 - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    I hope everyone who doesn’t support Mike Trout as AL MVP takes note of what an elite baserunner can do for your team.

  13. udub - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Because he didn’t cost them a game after one playoff game means he’ll never cost them a playoff game???

    • mogogo1 - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      True, but any player can cost you a playoff game. The narrative this article is addressing was the rather strange notion that Puig is somehow so different from other players that his physical gifts and hustle were LIKELY to cost them playoff wins. I’m not even a Dodgers’ fan, but the borderline racist commentaries asserting that Puig needed to be “broken” like he was a horse or some other animal, got old very fast.

  14. moogro - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    I’m in the middle on this one. Craig gave only a sample of a lot more media stupidity on Puig, which went way further and stupider than people outside of Los Angeles got exposed to. But it is too early timing to call these folks out. Later would be better.

  15. garlicfriesandbaseball - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Reblogged this on Garlicfriesandbaseball's Blog and commented:
    GFBB Comment: Loved this post by Craig Calcaterra. I was one of those naysayers, but he hit the nail on the head. I think Puig’s going to be one of those love em or hate em guys. And right now I’m sorta loving him. After that great base running performance last night I kept waiting for him to do something stupid, like sticking his tongue out at the opposing bench, but he refrained and I’m glad. Hang in there Dodger fans. Only a month or so to go!

  16. teambringitstrong - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Is there anything more annoying than the humanoids of Atlanta? Their city can do no wrong!! Their teams can do no wrong. They are the best at everything.
    They refer to themselves as east coast when in fact they are in the heart of the bigoted, backwards, racist South!! Go eat your fried foods, chug ur sugary drinks and keep believing the south will rise again.

  17. coloradogolfcoupons - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    There have been a few rookie sensations over the years that inspired a team and a city. Mark “The Byrd” Fydrich, Fernandomania, but Nobody like Puig in my lifetime. He shamed his teammates into giving 100% every day, just with his joy of playing. Hanley Ramiriz turned the clock back 4 years and the rest of the Dodgers likewise caught fire. They literally sprang to life from a team of Walking Dead. Then the city caught fire, and Dodgermania came back in Vogue again after years and years of watching ineptitude. He probably is responsible for putting 50-100 Million in the team and city pockets single-handedly. His detractors were jealous, IMO…simple as that.

  18. db105 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Too much is made of a couple plays or decisions. What person does over the long haul is a better indication of what he is. What Puig does as far as decision making has more to do with randomness.

  19. jkaflagg - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Puig has a lot of drama queen about him, but he’s an awfully good baseball player….don’t think Mattingly has any trouble “putting up with him”, especially considering that he basically saved his job….

    • moogro - Oct 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      His job was never in jeopardy.

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