Yasiel Puig’s roller coaster ride of a season has been well documented. From wild walk-off celebrations that took much criticism to scintillating plays in the outfield and with the bat, Puig has played a huge part in turning the Los Angeles Dodgers around.
When Puig first joined the Dodgers in June, the squad was eight games below .500. Since then, Puig has hit for .351 with a ridiculous .412 on-base percentage, and the Dodgers are now 21 games above .500. Adding speed to power makes Puig a dangerous weapon, and that is not even considering his cannon of an arm.
Alas, the highs of the season have almost been as high as the lows have been low for Puig and the Boys in Blue. With every action he makes being scrutinized by the media, Puig can barely tip-toe on the line before someone calls him out. The last 24 hours have been quite the rollercoaster for Puig as his day started poorly and ended with a bang.
Before Puig even arrived to the ballpark in Miami, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had penciled Puig out of the game’s lineup. Twitter was up in arms with unfounded rumors of Mattingly benching Puig for his attitude and behavior in recent days. After being accused of being out all night partying with LeBron James and then having an alleged spat with the media, many believed that Mattingly had sat Puig to teach him a lesson. However, as is evident by Mattingly’s words – imagine that, going to the source – Puig was benched because he had been slumping, according to OC Register writer Bill Plunkett:
Look at that — Yasiel Puig not in #Dodgers lineup today. 0 for past 11, 6 for past 35.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) August 20, 2013
The fact that Puig showed up late to the stadium and was fined by Mattingly and the Dodgers only added fuel to the flame of the critics who were unwilling to check the facts. Amid the chaos of the day, Puig grabbed some pine and watched as his Dodgers team battled the Miami Marlins. With the game tied 4-4 in the top of the eighth inning, Puig got the call to go out and pinch hit, and delivered with a solo shot to left center on the first pitch he saw. The eventual winning run makes it very difficult for the media to question Puig’s attention to the game, as well Mattingly’s choices.
From media-hating, stuck-in-traffic buffoon to Dodgers hero in less than 24 hours, Puig’s rough patches continue to give Dodger fans headaches. Nevertheless, Puig persists in making the pros outweigh the cons on a regular basis. Hopefully Mattingly can keep him in check long enough to keep him as a productive team asset.