The Los Angeles Dodgers are “very disappointed” in Yasiel Puig and so am I.
Now, before I get into my whole deal here, let me preface this by saying that I am amazed by how talented Puig is. When he burst into the Majors last season, he took the baseball world by storm, and rightly so: though polarizing, Puig is an undeniable wealth of talent. The kid is amazing. I also really admire the charitable work he does off the field for kids, volunteering his time to coach them and visit them in the hospital. It is obvious that he really does care about these children and I think that is wonderful.
However, I still do not care for him. As a resident of Arizona, I have taken special interest in crossing my fingers that he will strike out every time he is at bat (which, frankly, was not far-fetched most of the time). But I do not dislike him because of his insanely mad skills. In fact, I have the utmost respect for his mad skills. I just don’t care for his attitude, which is a lot more important to me than overall talent.
When Puig was arrested for the second time this past week for reckless driving, I was not all that surprised. My Dad and I have been saying for about six months now that this kid is out of control. Keep in mind that he is acting like a 23-year-old boy, but that is not what makes him out of control. Pretty much every 23-year-old I have ever met has made a lot of stupid choices. It’s kind of a right of passage when you are in your early twenties. What makes him out of control is my mind is his aggression and his seeming lack of caring about how people see him.
During the 2013 season, we all got to witness firsthand how Puig could either win a game for LA or make a stupid move that results in a loss. He aggression is dangerous for the Dodgers, even though that aggression helped them get as far as they went in 2013. Watching the benches-clearing brawl between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks back in June proved my point. Not only was he an aggressor, but also he was more out of control than anyone in the fight. The way he stares down umpires after not agreeing with a called strike. The way he grossly over-throws from the outfield. The way his cockiness rubs too many people the wrong way. I think it’s great that he plays with so much zest, but his zest quickly turns into something potentially dangerous for the Dodgers.
After the second arrest, the Dodgers issued a statement saying that they were disappointed in his choices and that they would work with him to further develop his growth on and off the field. They have their work cut of them. Some days, I wonder if Puig even cares. He doesn’t have to, but my deal is this: he is a pro athlete and there are so many kids who look up to him. As a public figure, he has an unfair amount of pressure put on him to be a good role model and I understand that sometimes, you can’t live up to that. However, he is making conscious decisions that adversely affect how people view him. His choices are just that: choices. They are not a series of accidents or actions with complete lack of forethought. After all, he chose to drive 110mph in a 70mph zone.
I personally would love to see him continue to do well in the Majors. He brings something to the table that I haven’t seen in a loooooooooong time. However, he needs to be brought down a few notches. He needs to look at himself in the mirror and remember that he has people and children looking up to him as a role model. I mean, can he look into the eyes of a ten-year-old fan and try to explain the mug shot this kid just saw? I don’t expect Puig to make any significant changes overnight, but I think it is something he needs to look at more closely. He needs to reassure that little kid who wears his name on a t-shirt that he won’t get thrown in a jail. Heck, he needs to convince this twenty-something author of that, too.