As a huge Dodger fan, of course I’m going to be a Yasiel Puig fan.
But the thing is…it’s hard. And the more I watch him play, the harder it is to be a Puig fan.
Obviously he is electrifying, and a ridiculous athlete, and exciting to watch. But he’s also an ass. A douche. And he doesn’t seem interested in maturing. At least not yet.
I see Giants fans talking about Puig’s antics on a daily basis, and my gut reaction is always to immediately disagree with anything that comes from the mouth or keyboard of a Giants fan. But it’s really hard to disagree here. I don’t have a problem with some of the younger players who are trying to bring some flare to the game. Personally, I’m of the belief that you should let your game do the talking for you, but hey, if guys want to try to bring their own style to the game, so be it.
Then there’s Puig.
It’s tough to watch him make stupid base-running mistakes week in and week out. I’m sure the other guys in the dugout have to get tired of it. Veteran guys are trying to win a championship, and I’m sure Puig wants that too, but he certainly doesn’t play with the controlled urgency of a guy who understands how crucial every play is to the outcome of the game.
I’m just watching from a fan’s perspective, but I cringe every time he nonchalantly catches a fly ball at his hip, or gestures to the crowd after a routine play, or wags his finger at a guy who he almost-kinda got close to throwing out. It just gets old. And as a Dodger fan, it sucks to say that.
This guy has all the talent in the world, but it seems like he just doesn’t care enough about improving to harness his energy. He’s still young and has plenty of time to improve his understanding of the game, but the progress you’d expect to see just hasn’t been there. At some point, you have to cut out, or at least reduce, the costly mistakes.
When he first came up, he was immediately compared to Mike Trout – and for good reason. Two young, supremely-talented outfielders playing in LA. Both are five-tool players who can do it all. But you can’t really take the comparison much further than that. Trout has the same electrifying skills – the power, the speed, the ability to make game-changing plays. But he knows what to do with those skills. And because of that, you don’t hear people arguing about which of the two is the better player anymore. That conversation ended before it ever really got interesting. It’s a shame too, because it really had potential to be a fun debate.
So maybe Puig can turn it around some day and learn what to do with his energy. Maybe he can figure out when it’s appropriate to add some style to his game and play to the crowd. Maybe he’ll learn when to provoke opposing players (It’s probably not right after a sure-fire Hall of Famer uses his play on the field, not his words, and makes you look silly).
But for now, he’ll just continue to agonizingly swing back and forth between bonehead plays and game-saving plays.
For now, he’s just an ass.