When strolling the boulevard accompanied by his mother, babies stop to admire him. While visiting a gentleman's club, it is he who gives the table dance.
When he hits a screaming line drive far into the night, the baseball actually screams. He is the most interesting man in the baseball world.
I don't often blog about Cuban phenoms, but when I do, I prefer Yasiel Puig.
As is often the case in this country, for better or worse, when it comes to the major issues of the day, there is a split right down the middle. Or into pieces. In sports — “the toy department,” as Vin Scully would say — and most importantly in baseball, we debate such things as interleague play, drugs of choice (and the punishment handed down when rules are broken), expanded replay review and what, if anything should be done about Yasiel Puig.
Puig is many things. He is part Superman, able to leap outfields in a single bound one minute, or seemingly so, leading his new team from doldrums to destiny the next. We'll find out about the destiny part in October. The 2013 Dodgers were 24-32 before Puig's arrival; they are 49-20 since.
He has been as much the difference-maker as anyone on the club, and perhaps even his entire sport, from the moment he first stepped foot on a big league diamond on June 3. He makes jaw-dropping plays in the field, smashes walkoff home runs, and sometimes hits just run-of-the-mill-eighth-inning-go-ahead homers that create the margin of victory, as he did last night in the Dodgers' 6-4 win over the Marlins in Miami.
Puig is also a 22-year-old man (or man-child, if you like) who does some things that give his employers pause, both on and off the field. Things that give members of the media something to cover — and sometimes sensationalize — and umpires reason to point a finger, too.
He misses cutoff men and errs on the bases with more frequency than seems appropriate; concepts we may claim to have mastered as 9-year-olds in Little League. He either says “F**K the media” or doesn't, depending on who you believe.
He hangs out in “nightclubs” until 1 in the morning, as some ballplayers do, and goes on 3-and-23 slumps, as all ballplayers do. He shows up late, offers the adult equivalent of the “my dog ate it” stuck-in-traffic excuse, attends a closed-door meeting with the boss, and takes a thoroughly deserved seat on the pine for the night, only to homer dramatically three hours later.
Smiles and high-fives all around. And maybe another night in traffic — as Scott Andes of Lasorda's Lair posits, “Traffic is the name of the hot new night club in Miami.” (God help us if Traffic turns out to be the name of a person, rather than a place.)
So are all Puig problems solved? Probably not, but as Don Mattingly has said, you take the good with the bad. Anyone who suggests there is more bad than good is quite clearly lacking in objectivity.
Los Angeles is 73-52, leading the National League West by 7 ½ games over the Arizona Diamondbacks with 37 to play. More will be revealed, beginning this afternoon with Zack Greinke opposing former Dodger Nathan Eovaldi at 4:10 p.m. Lineups will be posted shortly, no doubt with Puig returning to his normal spot, batting second and playing right field.
Because he is, after all, the most interesting man in the baseball world. Or perhaps, the entire world.