In Defense of Yasiel Puig

The Los Angeles Dodgers headline move this trade deadline was dealing three young pitching prospects in Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes and Jharel Cotton for a pair of Oakland Athletics, starter Rich Hill and right fielder Josh Reddick. This trade was met with a general “meh” from most of the fan base and the move has been discussed ad nauseam.

However, news surfaced after the deadline passed that was far more interesting to most Dodger fans. It was reported that the team had told Yasiel Puig that he would be traded or sent to the minors, and the team stuck to their word as he did not make the trip with them to Colorado, and instead packed his bag for Oklahoma City. This came after months of murmurs and rumors that Puig was on his last legs as a Dodger and was more than likely going to be shipped out come trade deadline time. The addition of Reddick all but sealed the deal and the Wild Horse was no longer with the Dodgers at the major league level.

The Pulse of Dodger Fans: Reaction To This Weird Trade Deadline

Many fans have grown tired of the Puig drama, and honestly, it’s hard to blame them. Ever since he shotgunned into the league, the microscope has been on him like no other player in the MLB, and it’s not even really close. Every move he made was scrutinized and criticized and he was lambasted for not playing the game the “right” way…whatever that means. Since his arrival in 2013, the media has made him out to be some kind of loose cannon who doesn’t care about the game and handles situations incorrectly and doesn’t have the look or demeanor of a “true professional”…again, whatever that means.

It made fans forget that he did things like this:

And yes, that was a while ago, and yes he has had his fair share of injuries and inconsistencies and on occasion does things that make you wonder what exactly he was thinking. But, guess what? I don’t for one second care about any of that. Maybe it’s shortsighted of me and perhaps it’s nostalgia or some other overwhelming force in me, but I still cannot for the life of me figure out why he garners the hate that he does. It doesn’t make sense. He’s 25, playing baseball for a living and is a having good time doing it. Sue him. Maybe he is the “the worst person I’ve ever seen in this game. Ever.” as a mystery teammate once said (For what it’s worth, without any facts to back up this statement, I’d put my money on the unnamed player being Mark Ellis, but that’s neither here nor there).

If he really is the worst person ever and we get some kind of concrete evidence of that, then sure, I’ll recant. I’ll stop defending him so vigorously and I’ll agree with the majority of other fans that his time in LA should probably be over. But until we get anything of that sort, I refuse to believe that he is as bad a guy as he is made out to be. Perhaps it’s because I’m 20 and like the antics and passion and didn’t grow up in an era where baseball was stuffy and the utterly freaking ridiculous “unwritten rules” reigned supreme. Or perhaps it’s because I grew up watching basketball and football as well, where outlandish celebrations are common practice and you don’t have to put your head down and be afraid to express joy in your own success lest you run the risk of retaliation from some stupid opposing pitcher, looking at you Bumgarner.

Yasiel Puig – The Agony and The Ecstasy

Or perhaps it’s because that half a season after Yasiel Puig debuted was probably the best I’ve ever seen the Dodgers play and it was definitely when I saw them have the most fun. We had that fabled 42-8 stretch, Hanley and Puig were doing their own thing, Uribe and Ryu were the most #RelationshipGoals couple I have ever seen and watching the Dodgers brought such joy to everyone around the city. It was something that I had never witnessed before and it made me fall in love with baseball in a way that I didn’t think was possible and it’s a big reason why I currently care so much about the Dodgers. He immediately became my favorite player, he is still my favorite player and he will remain my favorite player until the day he hangs his cleats up, sporting Dodger blue or not.

I don’t know if we’ve seen the last of Yasiel Puig in a Dodgers uniform, but if you read the numerous reports from around the league, it would certainly appear that way. If that is true, saying I will be immensely disappointed would be a gross understatement. Not since the Lakers traded Shaq will I have felt so personally betrayed and hurt by a sports move. All signs point to him being done with the Dodgers and I’m having a rather difficult time accepting this. But, that is sometimes how sports goes and the teams you love do things that confuse and or anger you and you have to live with it. I’m always going to love the Dodgers and I’m always going to love Yasiel Puig. Stats and old, white players telling him how he’s going about everything wrong be damned, I don’t care. Nothing short of a World Series victory is going to replicate the feelings I had for the Dodgers in the Summer of 2013, and that is largely due to Puig.

Dodgers Power Rankings Roundup: Week 16

So, keep bat flipping, keep running into outs, keep missing cut-off men, keep wearing your Vinny cleats, and most importantly, keep doing things your own way. It’s gotten you this far, so why stop now? As someone who also takes pride in marching to the beat of their own drum (my nails are currently painted bright sparkly purple, much to the chagrin of most of my friends and family) I especially appreciate this facet of his game and personality. It may not end up working out with the Dodgers, but I would be shocked if we didn’t see him land somewhere else and once again become that spark plug and beacon of hope and excitement that he was for us. I hope I haven’t seen the last of Yasiel Puig in a Dodgers uniform, but, if I have, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every last second of it.

No matter what happens over the coming months, he’ll always have a fan in me and I’ll always be grateful for the copious amounts of personal joy he’s brought into my life, and even if no one else wants to admit it, the entire city of Los Angeles.

So, Mr. Yasiel Puig, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

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Trip Westmoreland

20 year old with an almost unhealthy obsession with all things pertaining to LA Sports (Except the Clippers). Hip-hop head and gamer in my spare time. You can follow me on Twitter @Twest208


  1. I’ve been following the Dodgers since … well … a long time. Over the years I cannot remember seeing a player with as much raw talent as Yasiel Puig. You could make a solid argument that only Fernando created as much ballpark electricity. Puig is at once my favorite player and the most disappointing player – but there is no question that, above all, he has been as entertaining a player who ever wore Dodger Blue. I really hope he can develop the habits needed to survive at the major league level. I don’t think the Dodgers have REALLY given up on him. Why should they? His trade value is currently low and they can afford to wait and see if that “upside” we all know is there rises to the surface. But, like you, if Puig has indeed played his last game as a Dodger I believe he deserves our thanks and all of our best wishes.

  2. I think you are right that Puig treats this as a game, and not a profession.  I am glad he has fun, but not at the expense of the team. It is the team that is important, not the individual.  I think it is disingenuous to say that Puig is hated.  I think it is more appropriate to say that Dodger fans are frustrated. He has a ton of talent that is being wasted because of all the nonsense you mentioned about running into outs, missing cut-off, wearing Vinny shoes, or stand and admire HRs that make it as far as the warning track. 

    If Puig does not want to treat his tenure in MLB as a professional, then there are all sorts of weekend leagues he can join to just enjoy the game.  But if he wants to be treated with respect by fans and teammates, then he has to treat the team with respect.  In any organization, in any facet of life, if there is one member of a team not pulling in the same direction as everyone else, then that member must be counseled and “transferred” if the counsel does not generate results.  That is what the Dodgers are doing.  It is up to Puig to change and try and be a part of the team, and not an individual.

    While you have the right to say it, I think it is totally disrespectful to associate the comment made about Puig to AJ Ellis, a consummate Dodger.  I can think of any number of current and former teammates, managers and coaches who that statement can be attributed to, but I would not tarnish their names with an unfounded remark. 

    Since you are not old enough to remember the last time the Dodgers were in the WS, I will go on record and state that it was two old white guys (as you refer to them) who pushed the team across the line; Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser.  Neither one of them would have put up with any of the nonsense that Puig is pulling.  And nobody had more fun on that 88 team than another old white guy,  Mickey Hatcher.  It’s not about fun, it’s about respect.  It is about the name on the front of the jersey and not the back.

  3. I love your website and generally agree with most of the takes. But on this one – you’re wrong.  Mr. Puig has been given endless opportunities to work out the things wrong with his game – and yet, each season his numbers have gotten worse and worse. His .OPS is the lowest on the team. There are those that say he’s still a kid and hasn’t received the proper coaching – or that he’s a Cuban player and we need to understand that their is a cultural difference. Again – perhaps under the Mattingly regime you might be able to say that Donny Baseball took an instant dislike to his “hot dog” and “me first” bravura style of playing. But not so this season.  Under Dave Roberts it surely appears he’s been Coached and taught with a level of patience rarely seen. He still swings at pitches out of the strike zone on two strikes when EVERYONE IN THE PARK knows the pitch will be low and away.  He continues to make boneheaded moves in the outfield and on the basepaths. You need only look at AJ Ellis’ reaction this season when he bunted to move Puig from second to third – and Puig never moved. These aren’t cultural issues. This isn’t a lack of attention or care or coaching.  This is behavioral.  
     I help run a charitable foundation in LA that offers at risk kids a chance to play little league baseball.  We’ve done plenty of clinics and player events for our youngsters. Mr. Puig has been a guest at our park twice – and both times he was incredibly rude; refusing to take pictures with the kids (the only player EVER to refuse that).  He’s the only Dodger we’ve hosted who wanted to leave the minute he arrived. He cared not one bit about the kids, the program, the teaching moment he had. The level of narcissism on display on a personal level has to be evident to his teammates and on the field. I think there’s good reason no other team traded for him at the deadline (or the off-season). As Scott Van Slyke’s dad was quoted as saying this past winter “I hear his teammates can’t stand playing with him…”  That’s not someone we want to give another chance to – not on the team of “team first” icons like Robinson, Koufax, Valenzuela, Hershiser and Kershaw.

  4. I don’t believe your story about not taking pictures with the kids. He loves kids and has always been good with kids. I went to Spring training a couple years ago, and he would only sign autographs for kids. He would take pics with them and sign alot more than any of the other players would. He’s also done alot of things with kids in the community and made surprise visits to kids and little league teams and played with them. I refuse to believe your story. If there was any truth to it, then you’re probably exaggerating or not giving all the details. Complain about his on field antics and not giving his all for the team, but he has been nothing but great to the kids.

  5. I am lifelong dodger fan and I had the priveledge this summer to go see my dodgers in Arizona, I was standing in line getting autographs and puig was just leaving he had just finished signing for the kids and I yelled to him yasiel para la nina (for the lil girl) he turned rite around and signed her and also posed for a pic with her ,I also saw Kershaw act like a total jerk with a lil boy who wanted him to sign a picture for him ,that being said I’ll always bleed blue and also be a yasiel puig FAN

  6. Get over the respect the game crap they are grown playing a kids game to entertain us they should fun I love to hear about practical jokes for god sakes,they are still human beings brace harper is a primadona and mats haven’t won anything with this self described best player in all of baseball, I’ve been a baseball fan all my 49 yrs of life I see no problem with players having fun

  7. Dodgershastalamuerte  Okay, you and I grew up in different eras.  I have been a fan of the Dodgers since they moved west, and followed players who respected the game and the team, and championships were more important than the individual.  You grew up during the Free Agency period where individualism is rewarded.  My son who played ML baseball, grew up watching Ozzie Smith and his back flips, and Ken Griffey Jr. wearing his hat backwards, and those were his two favorite players.  We don’t see eye to eye on this topic either.  While his favorite teammates were Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, and Manny Ramirez (all guys who loved to have fun),  he learned that respect of the game and the TEAM was what was important to win Championships.  Guys like Curt Schilling, Jason Varitek, and Nomar Garciaparra; especially Nomar. counseled him to always show respect for his teammates.  In fact it was Curt Schilling who along with Mike Lieberthal first counseled my son in his first Spring Training with the Phillies in 1998 as to how to approach PROFESSIONAL Baseball as opposed to the kids game.  It was the attitude of Curt Schilling that Boston wanted when they traded for him.  He knew how to win rather than just to have fun.  He may not be a fan favorite, but his teammates loved him (as a player).

    Yasiel Puig is a tremendous athlete, but as long as he plays this kids game as an individual instead of as a teammate, he will never fulfill his true capabilities in leading a team.  He has the ability to be a Kirk Gibson or Orel Hershiser and put the team on his back and carry them (as he did in 2013). 

    While you may not like Bryce Harper, there is not one baseball executive who would take Puig over Harper.  I will grant you that Bryce is not having a good year, but Harper is a 4 time AS, former ROY and MVP who is younger than Puig.  And while you bring him up, it is because the Nats are playing as a team that puts them in first place in spite of Harper’s poor year.

    So go ahead and have fun.  Nobody wants to take that away.  I will always remember Mickey Hatcher and RIck Dempsey and their tarp water slides, but it was Kirk Gibson’s volatile reaction to a practical joke at the first Spring Training Game in 1988 that helped to solidify that team as a World Champion.  They had no business beating the Mets or the As, but they did because they played as a team.  I have been to at least one game at every WS in LA, but the 1988 team will always be my favorite.  My hope is that Puig goes down to OKC and re-dedicates himself to learning the importance of the team, and then comes back and leads this Dodgers team to a Championship that they have no business winning.  I just hope that the next time he stands to admire a high fly ball that it is out of the park and not just to the wall or warning track.

  8. Yes I whole heartedly agree ment no disrespect whatsoever ,I also went to the 88 world series, I have read just about every book on MLB that is a big feat for me I have addd I grew up to the likes of cey,Sutton, Garvey ,lopes I have garv was my idol I wore #6 proudly leared his stance cut my hair like him that being said GO BIG BLUE

  9. I am a Dodger fan since the 70’s. Long time Dodger season ticket holder. My friends and I met Yasiel Puig at a restaurant in San Diego back in 2013. We were having breakfast and he had the table next to us. We did not disturb him or Paco but something he said made me turn around and Yasiel did too to tell me that what he was saying is true, that all women are the same. That he knew we understood what he was saying bc he heard our conversation in Spanish. Anyway ever since he has always been nice to us where ever he sees us. Last Sunday I sent him a message that I was happy he got 3 hits & that I was following the game from Florida (I had gone to the SABR convention) He has his playfull crazy side. He loves to talk, he is funny. But he also has a serious mature side. I translated his response to me.
    “That is good amiga
    I realized that I have to work a lot and leave everything in God’s hands.  He will choose my way and he will do it well.  I got tired of hatred to this kind of life.  This is only a game and you never know where you will end up so I give the best I can here and if I go to another team I will continue to fight to give my best. 
    Thank you for your constant support and messages”

  10. AlwaysCompete Just pointing out that he said that comment about Puig was likely associated with MARK ELLIS, not AJ Ellis.  Just saying, it is a big distinction.

  11. AlwaysCompete Dodgershastalamuerte I only want to address one point, comparing Harper to Puig.  For one thing, Puig and Harper grew up in two environments that couldn’t be more different.  Harper, probably from the age of 3 or 4, has always had strong coaching, mentoring, teaching, encouragement, tools, facilities, equipment, and so on.  Harper has had an enormous amount of fame since he was a high schooler when he made the cover of SI.  He has known how to deal with the pressure at a much younger age than most, and because of this, continued to be given the best coaching his parents/mentors could find.  Puig on the other hand, grew up in Cuba – a poor, socialist country where he probably received the best coaching you could find in that country.  However, comparatively speaking, the level of coaching, equipment, mentoring and so on, though likely some of the best if not the best in Cuba, pales in comparison to what Harper received.  Hence why Puig arrived to the majors immensely talented, but also immensely raw and immature.  He had (and I would argue still doesn’t) a hard time comprehending how to handle the bright lights and fame that come with being an MLB star.  I think anyone would agree that Puig’s biggest problem is right between his ears.

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