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Yasiel Puig: “This is a game of entertainment. I don’t play it to offend people.”

May 23, 2014, 9:10 PM EDT

Yasiel Puig Yasiel Puig

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been a lightning rod for criticism since making his major league debut on June 3 last season. He has upset several pitchers — along with plenty of writers, commentators, and fans — for flipping a bat. Sometimes on home runs, sometimes not. Puig has also made some fundamental errors defensively and on the bases.

Puig has also been, without question, one of the best players in baseball over the last two seasons. He’s tied with Mike Trout and Chris Davis for the third-best weighted on-base average (wOBA) since the start of 2013 at .412. The league average is .314. His 6.6 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, is tied for 17th-best with David Wright despite having the lowest amount of playing time among those in the top-20.

Puig doesn’t seem bristled by people who ignore his talents to focus on other details. Via MLB.com’s Paul Hagen:

“It’s my style. It’s the way I’ve played baseball for a long time. I don’t really worry about the other team or what other players think about me, other than our team,” he said. “As far as what other people think, I try to play the game hard and I try to play the game happy. I want to have a good time when I’m playing. This is a game of entertainment. I don’t play it to offend people. But I do have a good time playing the game of baseball.”

Puig made a ridiculous circus catch on Thursday night against the Mets. It’s a catch few outfielders past or present make. He’s fun to watch, and it’s fun to watch him having fun. Many hate the athletes who are clearly in it for the money, but then they turn around and try to ostracize one of the few players who is demonstrably having a good time out there. It’s tough to understand.

  1. goskinsvt - May 23, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    His offense is fun to watch, no doubt. But his defense and base running makes you scratch your head on an almost daily basis. I’m not a Dodgers fan, but if I was I would imagine he would be the most frustrating player to watch.

    • aceinthehole12 - May 23, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      I love watching PUIG play and I don’t really care much for the Dodgers.

    • kkkershaw22 - May 23, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      Well from a dodgers fan to a guy imagining too much he isn’t the most frustrating player to watch he’s actually the reason everyday I know dodgers have a chance to win one all the hating and all the bitterness from all you haters is gone all there will be left to do is to accept and admire his greatness and I don’t care what anybody says I know one of the reasons he isn’t liked by most is because either you have a legit hate for the dodgers (which is ok) or because he’s not an all American white dude doing it, I’m sure if it was mike trout doing all of this you would be all over his sack

      • baberuthslegs - May 25, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        Please look at your device and find the period key.

    • thetoolsofignorance - May 24, 2014 at 12:45 AM

      Yes, his defence keeps you on the edge of your seat, both good and bad, but his at bats make you cheer out loud. I cant see enough of this kid. one in a million ballplayers and I hope he keeps on having fun doing what he’s doing

    • okwhitefalcon - May 24, 2014 at 1:49 AM

      Puig is must see theatre, beyond entertaining – the best and the worst all at once.

      So is the reaction to his to his style.

      I dig it when he bat flips and/or the opposition gets bent when he does – all good either way.

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 2:58 AM

      Base running errors happen. It’s not frustrating.

      As for his fielding, I’ve got no idea what you’re referring to. One dropped fly ball + some over throws of his cut-off man LAST YEAR doesn’t quite quantify as a terrible outfielder.

      • thetoolsofignorance - May 24, 2014 at 8:49 AM

        There’s a narrative. he’s a bad person who does bad things. That the facts don’t match up with that nor the transgressions cited bear the scorn they draw is ignored by those who prefer to dislike and deride

  2. rbj1 - May 23, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Manny being Manny is fine, but Puig can’t be Puig.

  3. syphermce - May 23, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    And that, Mr Puig, is why you will never be respected by the fans or your peers in the game of baseball. Your antics will only carry you so far, and if it wasn’t because you had such raw talent, you would have been back down in Triple A already until your attitude matured.

    • Old Gator - May 24, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      And, uh, you have a certification signed by the fans and his peers authorizing you to be such a presumptuous, puckered asshole on their behalf?

    • thetoolsofignorance - May 24, 2014 at 12:46 AM

      You do not represent anyone but yourself. I hope you know that

      • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 3:01 AM

        Now, now. I counted at least 6 voices.

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 3:00 AM

      And this, syphermce, is just one reason why I shall never take anything you ever write on a message board seriously, especially should your comments pertain to baseball, about which you clearly know very little.

  4. drewsylvania - May 23, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    Much less does he play the game for people who try to be offended. Like, say, syphermce here.

  5. largebill - May 23, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    If you don’t like Puig then you just don’t like baseball.

    • baberuthslegs - May 25, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      Best comment of the month!

  6. mikhelb - May 23, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Ugh… this being a Baer column only means we will have another one on the same subject but by Craig C. and tomorrow another one complaining that one or two columnists didn’t agree with Puig’s comments and thus they are wrong. Aaaand possibly another column about a columnist who agreed with Puig.

    • illuminancer - May 23, 2014 at 10:02 PM

      I think a site name change is in order. APT, maybe?

  7. illuminancer - May 23, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    I would like Puig a lot more if:

    1) He wasn’t a Dodger, and

    2) It wasn’t front-page news every time he sneezed.

    The first, well, nothing to be done about that. The second? Every time the sports media tells me that Puig rode in on his flying unicorn that farts rainbows and saved boring old baseball–and that I’m racist if I don’t think baseball is in desperate need of farting rainbow unicorns–I like him a little less. Since this happens several times a day, the dislike is pretty intense.

    I think Matt Kemp’s pretty awesome. I like Clayton Kershaw. The Dodger thing is much less of a problem than the fact that I’ve been told over and over and over and over again that Puig is the reincarnation of Ruth, Mantle, and DiMaggio all rolled into one amazing package. He’ll be on the All-Star Team this year, and he should be. He should not have been on the All-Star Team last year after he’d played a grand total of six weeks, and the fact that people were clamoring for him to be named is exactly why I find him annoying.

    • jwbiii - May 23, 2014 at 10:14 PM

      So the fact that other people wanted Puig to be an All-Star makes Puig annoying to you?

      If a lot of people think someone or something is good, does that make you think it’s bad? If a lot of people think something is bad, does that make you think it is good? Do you eat a lot of Taco Bell food?

      • unclemosesgreen - May 24, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        When did Taco Bell start serving food?

    • themuddychicken - May 23, 2014 at 11:00 PM

      So, you’re racist against farting rainbow unicorns?

      • Old Gator - May 24, 2014 at 12:33 AM

        Rainbow farting unicorns are a race? Your cladistics are faulty.

  8. mikhelb - May 23, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    Puig reminds me a lot of Rubén Rivera sans the glove stealing incident. Even his antics are similar to Ruben’s, difference being: the Yankees didn’t allow that behaviour in their team and sent him down to AAA, later they called him up but ultimately traded him for Homer Bush and Hideki Irabu. Melky was also traded for similar things, and because he was viewed as a bad influence on Canó (who had already been benched and fined for his lack of hustle and continued partying until the late hours).

    • jwbiii - May 23, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      Puig: 323/401/556
      Rivera: 216/307/393

      Really?

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 3:04 AM

      You’re real deep, man.

  9. dinofrank60 - May 23, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    No,it is not a game of entertainment. How am I entertained if the Dodgers lose or don’t play well?
    How am I entertained to see a a guy not do his job properly, because of lack of experience or fundamentals?
    Why should people be concerned with entertaining me; I’m watching them play, they aren’t putting on a show for me.
    I have no problem with Puig, other than his mistakes can be deflating. He’s got pay attention and learn. The Dodgers went through this years ago with Matt Kemp.

    • dan1111 - May 24, 2014 at 4:51 AM

      If entertainment is not the purpose of baseball, then what is it?

      And it’s too bad that your enjoyment of the game is completely predicated on your own team winning.

  10. apkyletexas - May 23, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    There were two catches in the Bucs-Nats game last night that were nearly as good if not as good, one of which by McCutchen won the game at the end. And McCutchen didn’t make two base running errors to cost his team the win.

    • NatsLady - May 23, 2014 at 11:29 PM

      Josh Harrison made another one tonight, again winning the game (which would have been tied). He also didn’t make any base-running errors. Between the Reds and the Pirates, this is getting really OLD!!

      http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/51231442/v33104717/wshpit-harrison-makes-incredible-catch-to-end-game

      • apkyletexas - May 24, 2014 at 1:05 AM

        Yup. Playing good ball and making great catches to win games doesn’t get you headlines. But making great catches and then screwing up on the base paths to lose games makes you an MVP candidate. This is the same Puig that demolished what slim chances his team had in game 6 of the NLCS last year with his errors and odd misadventures in right field. His fielding troubles are especially odd since right field is the easiest outfield position to play, and yet journalists continue to claim he has some sort of superior athleticism. I’d be interested to see him try to play center field in Pittsburgh for 3 games and see how many balls McCutchen routinely runs down that Puig wouldn’t be able to get to.

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 3:09 AM

      Those two running errors didn’t cost the game nearly as much as the fly balls that went over Matt Kemp’s head and to the wall last night, but it’s great to know you really care about the Dodgers team to peg all their losses on Puig. Because as far as I know about you, Kyle,Texas, your criticism of Puig, while rampant, is nothing more, nothing less than the Palestinian’s criticism of the State of Israel. Like your impressions of Puig, everything the State of Israel does is wrong. Flat out wrong. It may even be universally condemned and worthy of in-store demonstration by whacked out, spoiled brats who will not take it anymore. Even if taking it means allowing some fruit to be sold. No sir, when it comes to Puig, Kyle, you are the man to make sure the rest of us know the troof, which is that you’re sane, and we’re all whacked for appreciating a man’s talents when you know that man is the absolutely worst creature ever to put on a baseball uniform.

      I wish you could make the $6 million per season. That would straighten out this world for once.

      • apkyletexas - May 24, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        Funny that you lost by two runs and it had nothing to do with the two base running errors by Puig that killed run scoring opportunities. Glad to see you stayed up all night drinking just to respond to me. Sleep it off pal.

      • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        Bless your heart, Kyle. So concerned about everybody, especially the people whom he hates the most. You are just like Hezbollah, and we all know how successful those guys are.

        I think, with all due seriousness, you have a better shot making something of your life in Syria than you do convincing us on this baseball blog that you’ve got the knowledge to determine just who is a menace to his team.

        Ever been considered the cancer of your family? That seems up your alley.

      • apkyletexas - May 24, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        I have no idea what this has to do with middle Eastern politics – i’m merely pointing out the facts that my team’s MVP candidate McCutchen made nearly as good a catch, it was more important because it won the game in the 9th against a potential playoff team, and he didn’t screw the game up with stupid base running errors. Your guy did screw the game up, and yet he got the headlines because apparently losing dramatically is more “entertaining” than winning with solid and even spectacular play. If you can’t deal with that sort of discussion of actual baseball play, you might want to reconsider participating on a baseball discussion board. It’s only going to get worse for you pal. And for your information, I’ve also got friends in Israel, and I completely reject your vicious and uncalled for attacks on me as some type of supporter of terrorist groups. Your kind of drunken rage on a baseball board is a particularly vile form of obscene hate rhetoric. Again, I strongly recommend you sleep off whatever toxic stew you imbibed last night.

      • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        Not a shocker that this went over your head, Kyle. And beer puts me to sleep. Liquor just makes me sick. I smoke a lot of dope, though, which is probably the only reason why I’ve decided to take up any of my time to actually communicate with you. And there was a meteor shower last night, which I wanted to see but was bummed about because of all those clouds. So I went outside, looked up, smoked a bowl, came back in and decided to read some HBT, saw your comments, packed another bowl, smoked that, and then proceeded to digest each clever morsel you left behind. Not very appetizing, I might add.

      • apkyletexas - May 24, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        I bow to your drug induced insanity. Clearly I thought I was communicating with someone – but you are so busy having psychotic arguments with yourself that you don’t even need me. You win – Guess I’ll go find some cancerous Syrian/Palestinian terrorists to have lunch with. Enjoy third place pal. Nice win last night by the way – you may be right despite your drugged state (or because of it?) – Kemp may have been the problem.

      • koufaxmitzvah - May 24, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        What you’re saying is you’re completely sane and sober despite your year long battle of leaving nasty messages about one Yasiel Puig? What you’re saying is that you’re just naturally too stupid to connect some dots from other conversation participants? That because you have zero knowledge of the universe or even Middle East politics, that those with whom you disagree must be drunks too stupid to post? Is that what you’re saying, Champ?

        Sweet, loving, all-knowing (minus Universe, Middle East, and baseball) Kyle. Bless your heart indeed.

      • apkyletexas - May 24, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        No – i’m saying I don’t waste my time with pot heads. And my name’s not Kyle. Whatever. Party on Wayne.

  11. Walk - May 23, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    Winning is also fun. You play to have fun all the way until you realise that you have a chance at a career. Then you buckle down and work. Once you make it and are there to stay then you can have fun again. Sure you sometimes ruffle a few feathers having fun, you never want to disrespect someone if you can help it. I can get behind players having fun and even showing their inner fire a bit, we see it often with a fist pump or a batter firing his bat down after he swung at strike three and missed badly. Puig is getting a lot of attention, he will get used to playing in the spotlight. As long as he understand he need to pick his times a bit better and not upset his teammates then the problems will lessen. I am excited to see what he will be like in 5 or even 10 years.

  12. lazlosother - May 23, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    I’m old, wrinkled and tired. But I love the Puig. I hope this guy rules for a long time. He’s just fun. Everything he does is fun. I hope he’s out there for a good while. He makes baseball better for the fan.

  13. kingscourt25 - May 24, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    But Bill, Ben Revere made a great chance (better than Puig’s) 2 weeks ago!! Why not a single post about that? herp derp derp.

  14. psunick - May 24, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    Who cares?

    The Giants own the Dodgers, and are on their way to their third championship in five years.

    • apkyletexas - May 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Yup.

  15. hoya33 - May 24, 2014 at 2:58 AM

    I am a old man his skill level and plays the game as hard as anyone I have ever seen. He is the rebirth of Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays he is that good.

  16. lanzurrah - May 24, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    I don’t mind Puig flipping the bat. It actually piques my interest because I want to see how it plays out with the offended pitcher/team in the following innings. As long as he/writers don’t complain about him getting beaned repeatedly, then enjoy the bat flips. I enjoy the retribution after the fact.

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