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A Deep Thought on Derek Jeter and a Must-Click on Yasiel Puig

Apr 7, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT

Derek Jeter AP

Watching the Orioles-Yankees game. In the bottom of the fifth, Derek Jeter blasted one to left field that looked like it’d go out.  Jeter thought it’d go out for sure, anyway, because he jogged out of the batters box admiring his shot. Except it didn’t go out. It hit off the top of the wall and Jeter had to turn on whatever is left of his afterburners to make second base. He made it, but it was close.

Deep thought: if Jeter is tagged out after dogging it out of the box and admiring his shot, does get lectured about the importance of hustling, a la Robinson Cano? Does he get told he needs to respect the game and play it the right way, a la Yasiel Puig? Or does it work like a bank account, where you can afford to spend a little hot dog, wild horse equity after so many years of deposits? Such a confusing topic.

Anyway, now is as good a time as any to link Dan LeBatard’s excellent article about Yasiel Puig and his very different background and very different mindset than most of his colleagues in the major leagues.  No, it doesn’t excuse his lapses, but it does explain them pretty well. And it’s worth thinking about before we start lecturing people about how to play the game the right way.

  1. sdelmonte - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Been a big fan of LeBatard for years. He’s a contrarian even other contrarians like myself marvel at. Or shake our heads at. He doesn’t always speak sense, but he makes sense to me about as often as any talking head in the sports world does.

    • yahmule - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      Dan Le Betard’s journalistic style is closely akin to the barter system. You grant him access, he’ll write an article that makes you look good. ESPN defined their entire network off a similar principle.

      He rehashes some good points, made by much smarter people, in that article.

  2. Francisco (FC) - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    What I want to know is: How the hell do you keep 1.2 million dollars in your jean pockets?

    • jerze2387 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      Must have been girbaud jeans

    • stex52 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Must’ve been a check, FC. :-)

      • stex52 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Damn, the system left the little smiley face off. Seriously, because he had this big check in his pocket and he had absolutely no idea what to do with it. If that is the case, someone needs to handle getting these guys some kind of agent. They need the help or they are going to be robbed or cheated.

  3. jerze2387 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    I think that article taught me more why manny is manny than why puig is puig

    Breast fed til he was 6???? Lunchtime in kindergarten had to be interesting, to say the least

    • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      kindergarten?

      Perhaps you missed the blinding poverty thing

      • jerze2387 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        Guess you missed the whole joke thing

      • chip56 - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        I suppose Puig is the only player in baseball who grew up in abject poverty…that must be it.

    • bh192012 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      Now you know what you need to do to get little jerze2387 all big and strong for baseball.

      Breast feed him until he’s 7!

  4. andreweac - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Craig, do you write in the right way?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      Always. I respect the game.

  5. inserthandle - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    That plays like this are so commonplace in MLB lead me to question whether I should invest so much time, money and psychic energy into being a baseball fan. Major league players are paid extraordinarily well and devote their professional lives to helping their team win baseball games…but they can’t be bothered to run out of the box when the outcome of a play is in doubt? And this is accepted as completely normal. Only old geezers question it. And everyone laughs at them.

    • inserthandle - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Or down-arrows them.

    • Patrick R. - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:12 PM

      Why do you care how hard they run if they have a tangible, net-positive effect on their team’s success, like Jeter has? If you want to get upset about Skip Schumacher or Nick Punto dogging it, that’s fine, but why should a player with preternatural talent risk injury when it’s clearly unnecessary?

      • thegreatstoneface - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:06 PM

        uh…maybe to, you know, respect the game? play hard, play to win…that sort of thing?

  6. clemente2 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Great article. Read it.

    • jerze2387 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      Are you saying to read it or that you read it?

      • clemente2 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        I am not on Facebook. I do not comment on my own actions. I only give commands to brighten your days. Or insult you. Either way, you deserve it. So, stop bothering me. And I don’t like that you made me spend five minutes of my increasingly short life span thinking about read/read/red/reed and trying to come up with some fun puns. And failing. So stop that, too.

        Damn whippersnappers.

  7. sisisisisisisi - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Why ain’t the others that just got off the island not behaving like Puig? Another Cubano just trying to make more excuses for the juvenile. Stop babysitting Puig have some tough love for him.

    • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      the a’s pay ariel Prieto to babysit Cespedes.

      He is older and seems to have matured more, but still Prieto is a Major league coach, in uniform with the team. they did that because, as the team that gave him that $1.2M signing bonus, they knew how hard is was to assimilate.

  8. yahmule - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I was watching the Yankee game just yesterday and Jeter got caught between first and second and he merely stood there and waited to be tagged out. I wanted to see the 40 year get into a nice protracted run-down, but he didn’t care enough about me as a fan apparently.

    • anxovies - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      I saw that too. The runner ahead was heading for the plate and Jeter was taking the extra base and got caught on the cutoff. He stopped midway to avoid any chance of getting tagged out before the runner scored. Apparently, he cared more about the run than any entertainment value to you.

      • yahmule - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        The runner actually scored easily. It was a baserunning blunder and then he dogged it. Way to be an enabling fanboy, though.

  9. larrythecat5 - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    All I got was a bunch of excuses from LeBetard about Puig based on experiences from other players…who don’t necessarily act like Puig at all. Just a basic “It’s hard to make the transition”.

    Well to my eyes, and I’m NL West, Puig is kind of an ass on the field. I like playing with flair. I like exciteable players. I feel that Jose Fernandez’s reaction to his final game Home Run he hit was totally cool, and I thought Chris Johnson and Brian McCann were full of *. So with that said, I react to Puig’s actions (on the field) with disgust. That’s probably too strong a word, but yeah. I see Puig as a player who thinks he’s the best in the stadium, and he prioritizes that over evrything else. Basically, I think he’s an ass.

    • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      the game in cuba is different. there is a lot of flair. Puig is playing the game like the game is meant to be played (in cuba). Jose Fernandez is essentially an American.

    • ilovegspot - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      larry is a cat owner and way to sensitive, kind of like a chick.

  10. mkd - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Good luck trying to find a human endeavor to invest your time, money and psychic energy wherein the participants perfectly conform to your definition of flawless performance every single time without exception.

    • inserthandle - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Thanks for putting words in my mouth. I don’t expect perfection. I expect a certain minimum level of effort. If the player doesn’t care, why should I? What is the point of the whole thing?

      • Sign Ahead - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        Making mistakes and not caring aren’t the same thing.

        While you’re scolding people for putting words in your mouth, your putting an awful lot into Puig’s head. I’m not sure if it’s just recreational outrage, or the sporting version of “If you really loved me you’d do X” emotional blackmail. Either way, it’s kinda creepy.

      • anxovies - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        There is no point in anything, no point at all. All is sham, all is dross.

        The leech’s kiss, the squid’s embrace,
        The prurient ape’s defiling touch.
        And do you like the human race?
        No, not much.

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      There it is again, psychic energy? I know Baseball is a game of preparation and attention to detail and all the cues that happen on the field but… do we need ESP to appreciate it to its fullest extent?

  11. djandujar - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    The author caters his style to his Miami Herald employers’ needs (all the America-is-so-much-better-than-Cuba propaganda) while still painting a picture that is worth contemplating. In other words, he’s a good writer.
    It’s just too bad that most Americans are too stupid to care about any other vantage points in the discussion of how Latinos are “supposed” to play the game in ‘Murca.

  12. peymax1693 - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    I may be wrong, but baseball is still baseball, whether it’s played in Cuba or LA. Even in Cuba, I’m sure Puig was told how important it is to hit the cut-off man.

    However, having never been to Cuba, I could be wrong; perhaps players there are encouraged to overthrow the cutoff man, thus allowing runners to take extra bases. Perhaps that explains Puig’s repeated inability to just hit.the.cutoff.man.

  13. mikhelb - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    Understandable outside of the stadium since many parts of hispanoamérica doesn’t have what is viewed as “luxuries” (bathrooms with sensors, brands upon brands of organic dog food with vitamins because heck how dogs and cats survived thousands of years without organic vitamined food??) but inside the playing field every one plays what is viewed as the right way:

    always hustle, if a manager asks you to run you run harder, play small ball whenever is neccesary (México won a Caribbean Series in 1986 after their 4th bat sacrificed himself in a squeeze play… Kruk was playing with ‘em that year), pitchers know that they have no predetermined roles and are willing to pitch whenever is neccesary.

    in so many ways hispanic players display a heads-up old-school type of baseball, which is how they grew playing ball with rocks as baseballs, broom sticks or tree branches as bats and cardboard as gloves, our bases were imaginary spots in the ground and we had fun, boy how we laughed and hustled and wanted to be the perfect player, one who can field, throw, bat average, hit lots of homeruns, steal bases and hell yeah, all that while pitching perfect game after perfect game… something a kid who rose to hero fame in 1957 did in México, an ambidextrous pitcher by the name of Ángel Macías who at one point pitched 11 no hitters in a season, seven of them perfect games, and six of them in a row. he could pitch with both hands and was the best hitter of the mexican team that beat the us kids in williamsport, the first time a foreign team won (curious how the us always makes it to the final by default).

    Puig is nothing but a big kid full of joy playing baseball, which in Cuba helped him because baseball players are treated better by the government with bigger rations than non-sport people (who get 1 or 2 pounds of rice per month). Puig was carefully treated by other cuban defectors that even outside of cuba they gave Yasiel their food when in captivity awaiting US permission to access US territory (ultimately he went to México). There is something called “la cubanada” but in this case Puig is not making excuses (for doing something knowingly and then say he did ‘not know’ because he was ‘raised differently’), and I think that has something to do in how the media is treating him (Vinny Castilla, Valenzuela, El Duque, Contreras and others have faced criticisms and were at some point mocked but not like Yasiel).

    in the playing field he has showed deficiencies common amongst amateur and novice players, it is nothing new. Outside of the playing field he might need help to avoid bad influences.

    in some ways he reminds me of another famous cuban: José Canseco, who faced the same criticisms but directly from his baseball peers, and it molded the type of guy we knew after steroids helped him to build a longeve baseball career (in his own words).
    .

    • peymax1693 - Apr 8, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      I basically said the same thing; the fundamentals of baseball are the same everywhere. I doubt his Cuban coaches didn’t tell him he needed to hit the cutoff man.

      In a way, it’s a slap in the face to Latin American players to excuse Puig’s fundamental lapses on “cultural differences”, as if Latin American players aren’t taught how to play a fundamentally sound game.

  14. mikhelb - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    It is nice to see Puig holding up when others would have exploded by now.

    It is harder to hold up than to avoid placing the blame on others.

    Just the other day I was reading Beto Villa’s tweet (he is a Yankees narrator of games in spanish) saying Melky Cabrera was traded by the Yankees after the 2009 season because of favoritism since he was better than Gardner but the Yanks opted for the white guy over the latino, while he didnt mention that Melky was traded for being a bad influence on Canó with their all-night escapades and arriving drunk, plus enabling Canó’s lack of respect towards the manager and coaches (the whole hustle thing, the ‘i am too good to bunt’ and his demands of being 4th bat to increase his value before free agency).

    • yahmule - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      And we all know when teams trash a guy on the way out the door that everything they say about him is 100% true.

  15. bisonaudit - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    You don’t have to be Cuban to not know to cash your bonus check. Ricky Henderson proved that.

    Also, Dirk Nowitzki’s pre-game meal used to be a sack of Lay’s until his owner put him together with a nutritionist.

    The Dodger’s need to step up and help this young man they’ve made such a big investment in.

    • sportsfan18 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      For all of us regular folks, it is a big investment that the Dodgers made in Puig…

      But in baseball terms it’s peanuts.

      If Puig keeps playing well, he and his agent will gripe about it in another year or two.

      Puig is only signed for 7 yrs and $42 million total…

      That’s only $6 million per year, although the amounts are different over the years. He’s playing for $3.7 million this year and it goes up to $6.2 next yr then $7.2, then $8.2 and then finally $9.2 million in the 2018 season.

      • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:24 PM

        is that all? by all means then, let him each doritos, it doesn’t matter, the dodgers are still ahead on the deal!

  16. chip56 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    So because Puig is young and from a different/harsher culture different standards should apply? Is that rule only good if you come from another country or does it apply to players who grew up in harsh conditions here too?

    This is racist garbage. White, black, Cuban, American. Same standards should apply.

    • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:24 PM

      good job missing the point.

      • chip56 - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        and what point might that be?

        I get that there’s a culture shock to going from an impoverished dictatorship where you have to steal soap to one where you can walk into any store and buy whatever you want. But I’m also willing to bet that there are plenty of other ballplayers who grew up in conditions that were almost as bad and don’t act like a-holes.

        Holding a person to a different standard because of race or ethnic background is racist. What LeBetard is saying is, essentially, that you can’t expect Puig to conduct himself the same way Mike Trout does because Puig is Cuban and Trout’s an American.

        And, if being young and Cuban was an excuse for acting like an a-hole, then maybe someone should tell that to Aroldis Chapman and Yeonis Cespedes who don’t seem to make nearly the kinds of headlines that Puig does.

  17. anxovies - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    So I picture it this way: Puig wanders around the bare halls of his huge, fancy apartment filled with unopened boxes of electric can openers and Rolex watches while waiting for the lechon asado to warm up in the microwave, and then goes for fast drive over to Bootie LA to squeeze on the talent. I get it. But what does that have to do with hitting the cutoff man.

    • peymax1693 - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      Exactly.

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