Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig is hitting .351 with 14 home runs and 32 RBI while registering a .411 on-base percentage in 80 games. His outfield arm is already a lethal weapon, evidenced by inhuman plays such as this.
He is also brash and unapologetic in the way he approaches the game, which is starting to ruffle the feathers of everyone he comes in contact with, from media members and opponents to his own teammates.
This is exactly what the league needs.
Baseball is currently in the midst of a character crisis. Players who find themselves with a severe lack of friends in the game is nothing new, but lately, that distinction has been reserved for the cheaters, the performance-enhancing drug abusers who end up looking like fools while bringing the game down with them.
What baseball truly wants is a clean superstar player with an attitude that will make headlines. He isn’t deceiving fans and he’s not putting on a front that lulls you into thinking he’s one of the good guys. If Barry Bonds wasn’t so obviously on steroids later in his career, his abrasive attitude would have been much more tolerable, perhaps even celebrated after his playing days were over.
The Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper has gotten that party started and Puig, with his transcendent play, is taking it to another level. With a blistering start to his MLB career, Puig now has the attention of the baseball world, more so than even Harper and his mohawk/desire to finally charge the mound and start a brawl.
Nothing makes headlines quite so much as the proclamation of, “F*** the media.” It was unnecessary, foolish and ridiculous, which only adds another layer to an evolving story that includes hints of “immaturity” and “arrogance.”
Of course, Puig is only 22 years old, so he has plenty of time to mature. That’s fine – he should shed the reputation for being lethargic and inattentive – but he can’t lose his ability to get under an opponent’s skin or, yes, curse at the media.
As the Diamondbacks’ catcher Miguel Montero has said, “he’s creating a bad reputation around the league.”