As I said in the initial Puig post, I would’ve benched Puig for being late to the park. It’s a no-brainer. You’re late, you ride the pine. This is not at all controversial. For Don Mattingly to do anything else would be wrong.
But of course, it’s never that simple with Puig. When he does something like this it’s the Worst Thing In The World. If you don’t believe me, read this from the Los Angeles Daily News:
Yes, he’s going to totally unravel the team. What’s more:
Yasiel Puig is the very thing that stands to undo the Dodgers’ World Series championship hopes. Not injuries to Clayton Kershaw or Brian Wilson or any other player . . . Don’t listen to anything he says. He’s not responsible. He’s reckless and selfish and his mistakes are inexcusable . . . He cheated everyone out of watching his antics — both dazzling and disturbing — in the home opener. Shame on him.
Clearly that’s not overstated. Not in the least. Puig being on this team is objectively far worse than not having Clayton Kershaw on it. Indeed, if it meant getting rid of Puig for good, I’m sure Don Mattingly would hold Kershaw’s arm out straight while Ned Colletti broke it with a sledgehammer. It’s that important!
Seriously, folks: this is what I get on about when I defend Puig. I don’t defend his actions when they are legitimately out of line. But I will defend anyone who attacked in such an over-the-top manner, as Puig routinely is. By people who are either unable or unwilling to distinguish between the notion of a player screwing up and a player dooming his team because of his screwups.
Puig has done the former plenty of times. He has done nothing close to the latter, and anyone suggesting otherwise is way more interested in sensationalism than accuracy.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.