“If you win 20 in The Show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press will think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in The Show, however, it means you’re a slob.” – Crash Davis to Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh in the film “Bull Durham.”
We know that Yasiel Puig has not accomplished the equivalent of winning 20 games in the show. Yet. A little stretch ….fine, a great little stretch….does not entitle you to fungus-filled shower shoes. It has entitled him, however, to become the leader of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He recently provided the lone run in a 1-0 Dodgers win – a home-run in walk-off fashion. I personally think all walk-off HR celebrations are silly and in the case of Kendrys Morales, terribly injurious. (I think players in front of the plate on the playing field before the batter has crossed the plate is actually illegal anyway and it bothers me). But Puig one-upped most walk-off celebrations with a slide into home plate. A slide that could have hurt him or one of his teammates.
He owns a reckless (some say cocky) style of play and had a fit of rage in a brawl against the Diamondbacks. He is front and center in the City of Angels, and as a result, the Dodgers are prime contenders again. Some say he has not shown enough respect for the game itself and that he plays almost with a chip on his shoulder, and/or a sense of entitlement.
D’backs catcher Miguel Montero said this about the budding star: “He’s got so much talent, it would be really bad if he wasted it just doing the stupid things that he’s doing,” he said. “You’ve got to respect to get respect, if you don’t respect anybody you’re not going to earn it.” In other words, put your filthy shower shoes away.
Montero went on to say that if you’re playing as well as Puig is then you can get away with some antics and cocky play. But wait until he hits .150 for a month – he won’t be able to play with that swagger and make aggressive mistakes. And if he does, a teammate might get hurt, Montero said.
Further, Puig was approached by former D’back great Luis Gonzalez during batting practice, but the rookie didn’t even look up to recognize Gonzalez. Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire scolded Puig, and the incident didn’t endear Puig to the fiercest rivals he has in his first month, the Diamondbacks.
Montero’s manager Kirk Gibson: “He is kicking everyone’s ass so people are jealous of him.” He added that with experience Puig will conform to baseball’s unwritten rules and a greater sportsmanship, but praised his style of play as “refreshing.”
The guy got hit in the face by a fastball. And stayed in the game. For that alone, in my book, he is a baseball badass.
And I do agree with Crash Davis; you have to respect the game; you need to be humbled by the game; the game is bigger than you are. But the excitement of Puig’s game is not diminished by his no-holds-barred approach. But during his first true slump, when he’s no longer the crown jewel of America’s pastime, he’d be wise to stop with the walk-off show-off stuff.
Otherwise, he’s just a pair of shower shoes covered in fungus.
By the way, I say this separately. If you play Fantasy baseball and have seen Bull Durham — the greatest baseball movie ever made — only once, you’re simply a degenerate gambler. Hell, if you haven’t seen it at least 10 times, you don’t respect the game nearly enough and I’m sorry the likes of you even read my column. Now stop your lollygagging and get to work.