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The “Yasiel Puig is a cancer” narrative is back for the new year

Mar 26, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

yasiel puig dodgers getty Getty Images

Bill Plaschke is back to his favorite beat: Yasiel Puig is out of control! He needs a major attitude adjustment! Someone think of the children! Too much there to even begin blockquoting the best bits, so go give it a read.

The best part of it all is Plaschke’s dismissal of anything that interferes with or contradicts his angle of attack. Manager Don Mattingly says “Puig and I are fine,” Plaschke says no they’re not. He accuses the front office of putting a leash on Mattingly’s comments critical of Puig, the front office strenuously denies it, and Plaschke says he doesn’t believe them. Plaschke says veterans are getting angry at Puig, but doesn’t get a quote to that effect, even anonymously.

Which isn’t to say that Plaschke’s broad points are wrong. I think it’s pretty clear that Puig has maturity issues. I also think it’s pretty clear that, at times, he has gotten on Mattingly’s nerves. I find it funny, though, that Plaschke’s general point — Puig is valuable when he’s hitting but isn’t when he’s not — is some unique or newsworthy point. Or why that analysis isn’t made about every other player, for whom it is also true. Or how Puig’s problems are different or more extreme than any other famously frustrating personalities in baseball. And, with a big, big respectful nod to Jorge Arangure’s column from last October, there is no escaping the fact that almost every controversy about deportment in baseball involves Latino players allegedly doing things the wrong way. And being told by non-Latinos that they need to shape the hell up. It’s pretty damn old.

It would be great for the Dodgers if Yasiel Puig immediately turned into Stan Musial, personality-wise. But it would also be great if, in the highly likely event that does not happen, someone actually tries to figure out if maybe Puig’s presence on the Dodgers isn’t a net positive. Or, at the very least, makes an effort to determine how negative his problems truly are to a professional baseball team rather than merely posit that the guy is a cancer.

  1. johnnysoda - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    Oh brother.

  2. fearlessleader - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    Plaschke’s journalistic laziness is rivaled only by that of his former LA Times colleague, T.J. Simers. He traffics in tired tropes and stereotypes, fills his pieces with vague innuendo rather than anything resembling actual reporting, and persists in an almost charming conviction that the one-sentence paragraph is the ultimate literary device. That he and Simers have jobs with major newspapers while bloggers at every level continue to be dismissed as unserious hacks is crazy-making.

    • dillongeeescapeplan - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:16 PM

      Plaschke’s about as unprofessional as it gets. His trashing of Paul DePodesta was real classy.

      • hockeyflow33 - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:05 PM

        I don’t know, I can think of at least five here in Boston alone who would could give Plaschke a run for his money.

    • mississipeepee - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      It’s a shame that he succeeds in doing what he wanted with garbage like this: driving up traffic and getting more exposure. Drama is what drives the average fan to be more interested, and if it wasn’t this low hanging fruit it’d be something else.

      Anybody with common sense knows Puig is immature. Until we get quotes from people in the lockerroom about how it’s affecting the team, it’s a non-issue. If they create this narrative and drive it hard enough, maybe it will be, who knows. Self-fulfilling journalism?

      • mississipeepee - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        Also, had a chuckle at that twitter back and forth with the terrible espn beat writers. Their arguement “people who don’t agree are homers who are ignoring the problems because you aren’t in the locker room all the time like we are.” Ok, so give me something with this fantastic locker room access you have to show Puig is a problem…

        Saxon did a hack job in the original story with the conjecture AND he took a harmless Mattingly pre-game quote and mashed it with the fact that Mattingly was pissed off after the dodgers almost gave up a 7-0 lead late in the game to create: “Mattingly angrily criticized Puig.”

        The best part was the lazy way he stated Adrian Gonzalez was heard “bantering loudly with Puig in Spanish” in the clubhouse. Didn’t go anymore into it, nothing at all about Gonzalez’s disposition or what was actually said because it might not fit the story of everybody hates Puig. If that doesn’t scream irresponsible journalism i dunno what does.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 27, 2014 at 6:11 AM

      Plaschke is the quintessential bitter, hate filled, dried up old person who likes to shout at young people for acting young. He’s doing this for the page looks and the attention it brings him but also for the personal satisfaction of being able to pander to other sacks of athletic failures like himself.

      Puig may need to focus on his living as a ballplayer a little more but he is hardly the most egregious offender in MLB ball. His biggest sins seem to revolve around trying too hard rather than a lack of effort on the field. His off field sins haven’t involved violence, drugs, vandalism, abuse of law enforcement officials, or flagrant disobedience of team rules. He’s being pilloried for being 23 years old and acting like he’s 23 years old.

      I’d love for someone to rip into Plaschke for being a bitter windbag who sucks up to other bitter windbags.

  3. drewsylvania - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    “Plaschke” sounds like a wet sneeze.

    • hep3 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      more like a wet fart.

  4. chacochicken - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    I’d wager at least 20+ teams would like to get some Yasiel Puig cancer.

    On a completely unrelated note, Bryce got thrown out of a game today for yelling at the 1B ump. That’s only because he tries really really hard. Or maybe adderall, I don’t know.

    • yahmule - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:07 PM

      20+10 is the most accurate assessment.

      • Francisco (FC) - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        20+9 since one already has it.

    • kardshark1 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      If white people act like Puig, it’s cause they love the game and are super competitive. If black and latin players act like Puig, it’s cause they’re a cancer with disrespect towards the game.

      On a side note, I can’t believe one person alive reads Plaschke. Who are these people?

      • spudchukar - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        That is a little too black and white, for my taste.

        As too your second question, the answer is you for one, if you perused this post.

      • spudchukar - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        …eh should only be one “o” in that to.

      • unfly - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:56 AM

        people don’t like to hear this but it’s the truth.

  5. echech88 - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Seems like there are two sides to this argument and both of them are just as stupidl:

    1. Everything Puig does is wrong and awful

    2. Everything Puig does is OK and fun and hey, lighten up!

    I know a few friends that are Dodger fans who get pretty annoyed with and worry about Puig despite the fact that they love what he can bring to the team. Acting like NOTHING is wrong is just as ridiculous as acting like EVERYTHING is wrong.

    Please media, just stop.

    • fearlessleader - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      Yep. Nuance is the first casualty of narrative.

    • spencersteel - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      Your comment beat me to post and said what I was trying to say better than I could say it. Well done.

    • spudchukar - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      Let me echo, those who have complimented you on your post. Mostly it is common sense, which of course is absent in this discussion. Kudos.

  6. spencersteel - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Comments made by Puig’s teammates as well as their on-field behavior towards him (most notably Ethier last season) make it pretty clear he’s a very frustrating person to have as a teammate. This is just the nerds-versus-old-guard-writers SABR argument being fought through a single player. There’s no way Puig’s deportment HELPS the Dodgers – Plaschke is a clown and thinks they’ll lose 90 games because of it; the stathead crowd points to his OPS and says his actions don’t matter. Tough to take either side seriously.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      You understand that Ethier almost got barreled over by a head strong Puig.

      I would love to see people like you live under a microscope.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:04 PM

      the stathead crowd points to his OPS and says his actions don’t matter.

      I think i’m going to change my username to citation needed, because no one has ever said this.

      • Patrick R. - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:16 PM

        Exactly. Not only would a stathead blatantly say “his actions don’t matter,” but no stathead in 2014 would point to OPS for anything.

      • Patrick R. - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:17 PM

        Edit: a stathead WOULD NOT blatantly say

      • spudchukar - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:39 PM

        Hey, you are a stathead, you’re not expected to be good at writing.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        Hey, you are a stathead, you’re not expected to be good at writing.

        hey I resemble that remark!

  7. koufaxmitzvah - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Roberto Clemente was considered a malcontent because he had a hard time talking to reporters. And then he died selflessly and baseball named its humanitarian award after him.

    In short, Plaschke can screw off.

    • yahmule - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      Moody. That’s the preferred code word when describing Latin players.

  8. dodgeblue - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    In regards the Latino players not playing the game right and this coming from non-Latinos, extremely generalizing on your part Craig! Some of thr players riding Puig the hardest are Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. It has nothing to do with ethnicity and everything to do with being immature. That being said, it doesn’t currently outweigh his on field value. Yet.

    • yahmule - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      Oh, you mean the formerly immature malcontent Hanley Ramirez?

      When will people ever get tired of this dehumanizing bull****?

  9. dillongeeescapeplan - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    There isn’t a more overused word in sports than “cancer.”

    • okwhitefalcon - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      Oh ya there is.

      “Narrative”.

      • dillongeeescapeplan - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:22 PM

        Fair enough. And I guess “overrated” comes to mind too.

        Still, it’s up there…

      • yahmule - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        Sooooooooo tired of narrative. The most overused word of the last two years at least.

      • infieldhit - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        I don’t know when “struggling” got replaced by “scuffling,” but that one gets on my nerves. It’s all the rage among analysts and announcers.

    • okwhitefalcon - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      The tried and true “overrated”, that’s an all timer..

      Lest we forget “strawman” and “outlier”, both are gaining on the over and (mis)use of “narrative” as worst buzzwords in the sports writing/blogging/commentary pantheon.

    • kingscourt25 - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:56 PM

      “Class” and “classless” are up there

  10. jaturso - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:19 PM

  11. espy70 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    He maybe the first baseball player with big talent and an ego to go with it, signed Reggie Jackson

    • NatsLady - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      Babe Ruth is on the other line for you. Ty Cobb wants to make it a conference call.

  12. senioreditor2 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    .300 30 hr’s and 100 rbi’s will shut everyone up.

    • infieldhit - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      Yes because his numbers last season were so terrible and my gosh look what happened.

  13. jwbiii - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    It would be great for the Dodgers if Yasiel Puig immediately turned into Stan Musial, personality-wise.

    It would be great for the L.A. Times’ readers if Bill Plaschke immediately turned into Shirley Povich, personality-wise. Or maybe not. As mississipeepee commented, the drama he creates drives revenue.

  14. lazlosother - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Puig sucks and he’s an attitude problem. Please trade him to my team.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:28 PM

      And since he’s so bad and such an issue, please throw in a prospect or two as well…

      • yahmule - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:59 PM

        You better take Julio Urias, too. Already rumblings about possible maturity issues…..from the 17 year old.

  15. ddmcd1974 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Hey kardshark go eat a fat one buddy. Your post is weak and pathetic. Have you ever listened to someone describe a white basketball player? That’s ok right. It is you know why because we don’t care about some crazy generalization made about people we don’t know. Move on and move up. You keep spouting that garbage and see where it gets you. I’m just glad I never have to deal with turds like you .

    • bsbiz - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:40 AM

      Probably because you’re usually the turd.

    • renaado - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:14 AM

      Hey Hey Hey. Let’s not get too far here.

  16. renaado - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Puig really needs to respect the game on how Baseball is played in the states though, Cuban leagues and the Major Leagues are truly different on any level… I really hope he gets notified on that “Seriously” cause this is no matter anyone can ignore especially on how reckless he plays the game.

  17. djandujar - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    I love when players exhibit some personality. Of course these days any player who has a personality not EXACTLY like the next guy is demonized.

  18. rcali - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Puig saved Donny Baseball’s job early last season and they both know that. Probably why Puig doesn’t respect him but he should.

  19. anxovies - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Although I have always thought that MLB players, pitchers in particular, are too thin-skinned about other players acting out, there is a practical aspect to the unwritten rules of baseball. More than most team sports, baseball features a personal contest between individuals in the pitcher-batter confrontation. In the Arangure column quotes Joe Girardi as noting that a baseball is a weapon. The rules of etiquette in baseball were probably developed over the years to defuse the emotions that can arise in a contest where the pitcher is armed with a hard object that he can throw at 90+ mph and a batter armed with a heavy club. Other sports featuring similar confrontations, such as tennis where the participants are armed with rackets, and fencing, have explicit and implied codes of respectful conduct designed to defuse a potentially dangerous situation. Not to say that a batter shouldn’t be able to celebrate a bit on the bases or a pitcher shouldn’t be able to show some emotion after a strikeout, but convention and codes of conduct often have a reason behind them.

    • bsbiz - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:42 AM

      Eeeeeveryone needs to learn to play the game the white way. I mean, Right Way.

      • renaado - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:16 AM

        I’m sensing some little bit of discrimination here…

  20. Barry's Triceps - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    Elijah Dukes was twice as talented as Puig and half the trouble…

    You are welcome for the laugh.

  21. Bob - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    You should be fired from this site for citing Bill Plaschke, much less reading or paying attention to him in the first place. If you would ignore all the hacks out there (Chass, Madden, Morosi, Justice, etc.), this site would be a much better place.

    • yahmule - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Hack smackin’ is what we do for fun around these parts.

  22. ws0001 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Where were the Dodgers exactly last summer prior to this cancer’s arrival? Oh yes, last place. What depths did they fall to once he arrived? The NLCS. Pppffft. Oh, he hit .122 in spring training games. Clearly, he will never start the season 3-10 after such a dismal display. He gained 15 lbs. He drove fast on the highway. Never before has a 23 year old gained weight during vacation or driven fast. And a rich 23-year old has never driven a Rolls Royce fast. Never.

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