Cuban superstar Yasiel Puig is the reason why the Dodgers are in the NLCS. The day before he made his Major League debut on June 3, the Dodgers were 23-32 in last place in the NL West. From Puig’s debut through the end of the regular season, they went 69-38 (.645) to win the NL West by a cool 11 games. Puig finished with a .925 OPS.
To criticize Puig when he has already done so much for the Dodgers and when he is surrounded by so many other capable players would normally be unfair, but such is life when you create such lofty expectations for yourself. Puig has shown himself to be the catalyst of the Dodgers, but he has been anything but thus far in the NLCS. In Game 1, he went 0-for-6 with two strikeouts, leaving a boatload of runners on base:
First inning: With runners on second and third and two outs, Puig struck out to end the inning. (2 runners left on base)
Third inning: With the bases loaded and one out, Puig hit a ground ball back to the pitcher, who got the force out at home. (3 LOB)
Fifth inning: With a runner on first base and two outs, Puig popped out weakly to third base to end the inning. (1 LOB)
Eighth inning: With a runner on first base and no outs, Puig grounded out to shortstop for a fielder’s choice. (1 LOB)
Eleventh inning: Puig struck out looking to lead off the inning.
Thirteenth inning: Puig flied out to right field to lead off the inning.
First inning: With a runner on second base and two outs, Puig struck out swinging to end the inning. (1 LOB)
Fourth inning: With the bases empty and two outs, Puig struck out swinging to end the inning.
Sixth inning: With the bases loaded and one out, Puig struck out swinging. (3 LOB)
Ninth inning: Puig struck out looking to lead off the inning.
For those of you counting, Puig is 0-for-10 with six strikeouts and 11 runners left on base. He is certainly not the only culprit for the Dodgers’ NLCS woes, but he has been a big part of it by coming up small in every situation he has been placed into thus far. If the Dodgers are to stage a comeback within the next five games against the Cardinals, they will need Puig to pick up the slack, and fast.
David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.
Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.
In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.
Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”
Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.
The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:
“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”
As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.
It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.