Despite Yasiel Puig’s considerable talent and often astonishing plays, he has sometimes been judged for his behavior since joining the Dodgers’ roster. From his frequent lateness, to his supposed attitude, to some public displays of immature anger, there has not been a shortage of reasons for more traditional sports fans to judge Puig as “bad for the game” or “immature.” Now, in a conversation with ESPN the Magazine, Puig is apologizing for some things and make other opinions clear. First and foremost, that he doesn’t want to be considered a bad teammate anymore. To wit…
I think it’s because my teammates see the effort that I am putting in every day, which I didn’t do before. They see the change in my behavior, and I think it has helped to have better relationships in the clubhouse.
The most important thing is the reveal that Puig is fully aboard the Bryce Harper train and also would like to start enjoying the fun of playing baseball without sportswriters from a different generation judging him. As pretty much every rational person should have realized by now, players being looked down upon for enjoying themselves on the field is super ridiculous and actively makes watching sports less fun. As you can see from the cheeky selfie above (especially the #PuigNotLate shirt), Puig is ready and willing to embrace the jokester side of the sport.
Bryce Harper is my idol now. I’m going to join him in the “make baseball fun again” campaign; I’m just waiting to get my shirts and baseball caps. He’s always been a great friend and a great athlete, and I admire him. I like how he plays the game, and I think he gets it. It’s good to see an American player saying that there needs to be a little more fun in baseball. Fans leave everything behind to come and see us play. We have to make baseball fun for the fans and not take everything so personal.
Preach, Yasiel. People pay money to go to baseball games and take an entire day to enjoy the event. Why shouldn’t players similarly enjoy themselves out on the field and goof off a little bit? There is a difference between showing someone up and having a good time. It is honestly a debate that has gone on far too long and, the more top players embrace having a good time on the field despite what some people might think, the better it will be for the game in the long run. You don’t reverse declining viewership numbers with boring players and a public speech from up on the soapbox every time someone so much as cracks a smile on the base path.
Read the rest of the interview for Puig’s thoughts on former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and having a six pack again. It’s as entertaining as it sounds.
(via ESPN the Magazine)