A huge deal has been made in this National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals about the persona of Yasiel Puig. Not that this should come as any sort of surprise, given that this was something that was talked about a great deal over the course of the regular season.
In Game 3 of the NLCS, the first of the series in Los Angeles, Puig hit a triple that plated a pair of runs in a game the Dodgers went on to win 3-0. Puig admired his shot from the plate, before emphatically hopping onto third base, much to the chagrin of the Cardinals, who have been very vocal in their complaints about the way he handled it.
It was an intense situation, and Puig was, no doubt, feeding off of the energy at Dodger Stadium, which was absolutely electric. We’ve seen players show this kind of intensity throughout the postseason, and multiple times coming from the Cardinals alone.
Yet, because it’s Yasiel Puig, the intensity in a game such as baseball is apparently unwarranted. We’ve seen Michael Wacha walk off of the pitchers’ mound screaming. Same with Adam Wainwright. Teams over in the American League have done it too. Max Scherzer came off the mound last week after getting out of a huge jam against Oakland with fists in full pump.
Again, this shouldn’t come as any surprise. While no one will deny that Puig is as talented a right fielder as there is in baseball, and possesses all five tools, baseball fans, writers, and even his peers have criticized his attitude and tendency to go over the top at one point or another. Rather than shunning him for the way he plays the game, Major League Baseball should be embracing him.
A polarizing player like Puig is great for the game. And regardless of what one might think about his “attitude”, there’s little to argue the fact that he’s an absolute blast to watch. The kind of over-the-top intensity is something that the game could use more of, not less.
Yasiel Puig has been fun to watch this season, and will continue to be on into the future. He’s going to have critics, whether it’s the hypocritical Cardinals or the old school baseball writers. But an electric personality like Puig is something that absolutely has a place in this game.