Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig penned a special article for MLB.com titled, “In my Words: Puig growing as ballplayer, man.” He writes about his motivations for playing the game, which include his new son Daniel Sebastian and doing charitable work in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Puig has been a lightning rod for controversy since signing a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers in June 2012. His production has fluctuated at times, which has been frustrating for Dodgers fans. But the thing that has enraged the most people is Puig’s penchant for flipping the bat. His rival, no surprise, is Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, as the two have squared off many times as NL West rivals.
In Puig’s article, he clarifies his bat-flipping:
There is a passion I have and we have as Latinos because we love to have fun, we love to show our joy on the field, and I think sometimes that confuses people. Sometimes, other teams get upset with our bat flips or expressions, but that’s how we show our joy. The pitcher can strike you out four times in a game so we like to show our joy when we hit that one home run. Baseball is fun. It’s exciting. I enjoy it. It’s a game.
It is saddening that Puig felt he needed to clarify this in his article. As we’ve noted here several times, there does seem to be a cultural war happening within baseball, however, and Puig is one of the biggest faces in that war, along with Jose Bautista. One one side, you have mostly white players who think the game should be played with as little emotion as possible. And on the other side, you have players who have mostly come from poorer areas like the D.R., Cuba, and Mexico that grew up playing a game that was to them as much a party as a contest.
Puig, ultimately, is right: it’s a game. And it’s a game that’s struggling to reach younger audiences. Maybe let the players have some fun, yeah?
On the heels of Tuesday’s news that Pirates outfielder Starling Marte received an 80-game suspension for a positive drug test, Rangers reliever Jake Diekman went on Twitter to suggest that players who test positive should be punished by making the major league minimum salary (currently $535,000) from that point forward. “Take something they care about,” he wrote.
First of all: The players’ union needs to send a memo out to make sure the players stop tossing out ideas that depress their own value and leverage.
Second of all: This idea would be 100 percent a win for team owners, as players suspended for drug use would become a market inefficiency.
Third of all: Is PED use really this much of a problem that we need even harsher penalties? Dee Gordon and Marte are really the only All-Star-caliber players who have been caught recently. PEDs are mostly used by fringe major leaguers like Alec Asher, Josh Ravin, and Daniel Stumpf, who were all suspended last season. Some will argue that these fringe major leaguers get pushed over the edge and end up taking a roster spot from an arguably more deserving player. But where was this concern when Tim Tebow used his celebrity to eschew a minor leaguer off the Arizona Fall League roster last year and the Mets’ Single-A Columbia roster this year? Lots of people pretend their distaste of PED users is rooted in altruism but is ultimately shown to be purely punitive.
Fourth of all: Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus brought up a great point.
The Pirates announced on Tuesday afternoon that outfielder Starling Marte has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after violating the league’s Joint Drug Agreement. Marte tested positive for Nandrolone, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Team president Frank Coonelly released a statement:
Marte also released a statement in which he says he tested positive due to “neglect and lack of knowledge,” Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. As Abraham points out, Nandrolone is an injection-only steroid.
Though Marte was off to a slow start, mustering just a .659 OPS in his first 13 games, he is arguably the Pirates’ best player. Losing Marte, an All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, for half the season puts a serious damper on the Pirates’ dream of contending in the NL Central. The club entered Tuesday 6-7, tied for third-place in the division with the Cubs. If the Pirates were to reach the postseason anyway, Marte would be ineligible.