I first saw that Bill Plaschke column about the Dodgers benching Yasiel Puig I linked in this morning’s And That Happened last night right after it went up. At the time the Dodgers game was still going on and the column was still basically “the Dodgers needed to bench Puig for his own good; good call.” What I had missed until just a few minutes ago was Plaschke’s update which came after Puig hit the big go-ahead pinch-hit homer.
They need less of Puig’s reckless on-field behavior. They need less of his arrogant refusal to listen to instruction. They need less of an attitude that infuriates umpires. But they love the victories that the reckless, arrogant attitude produces.
They needed to bench him Tuesday. But they couldn’t bear to bench him for the entire game.
He needs to learn. But Mattingly showed that he’s unwilling to possibly sacrifice a victory to finish the lecture … With one swing Puig won a game, but, in playing him, the Dodgers risked losing much more.
Sorry: but if you look at a manager putting a player into the game in a key spot and that player hitting a clutch, go-ahead homer as some bad thing, you may very well have disappeared up into your own butt, Mr. Sportswriter. You may very well have allowed your preferred narrative — “untamed, swaggering head case needs to be taught a lesson” — obscure the fact that Don Mattingly’s job is to win baseball games and Yasiel Puig’s job is to crush baseballs. This isn’t Little League. Life lessons are great if you can get them, but it’s winning that keeps people employed and fans going through the turnstiles.
I suppose the Dodgers’ lead is too big to expect the Dbacks or someone to catch them for the last playoff spot. And I certainly wish no misfortune on them. But it would be something if the NL West came down to the last day of the season and the Dodgers ended up making the playoffs by one game. If that happened I’d be curious to see if Plaschke remembered this game and his preference to see the Dodgers lose in the name of the Education of Yasiel Puig.