Yasiel Puig called that team meeting last week, asked teammates for help to get better

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Narratives are a hell of a thing.

A guy pops on the scene as a bit of a showboat, ruffles some feathers and shows some immaturity and it’s so easy to put him in a box. He’s arrogant and entitled and doesn’t know how to Play The Game The Right Way. He needs to be tamed and taught and called on the carpet and if he doesn’t he’s gonna find himself outta baseball, etc.

And then he is called on the carpet by the team and, “well, doesn’t that just prove my point?” says the narrative-builders. “Maybe you shouldn’t accuse us of building false narratives after all, you unconnected fans and bloggers and stuff.”

That’s what happened with Yasiel Puig last week, we were told. We were told that Don Mattingly finally had enough of Puig’s immaturity and that Mattingly and Puig’s teammates held nothing short of an intervention to get him on the right track. “That does NOT happen with players who aren’t epic jackwagons, son, as those of us who live in baseball clubhouses can tell you. It proves there was a huge problem and that this kid is on thin frickin’ ice.”

Except:

And lest you think this is spin by Colletti to protect a player, I have independently confirmed that Puig called the meeting from a source familiar with the meeting and what led to it.

Huh. I wonder what the media would have said if Bryce Harper had called a team meeting in which he asked his teammates how to get better? Or if a player who had a track record of messing up did so. Might they not be lauded for their maturity? As someone who is taking responsibility for his future and his actions? Someone who respects his veteran teammates and wants to get better so the team can get better? I feel like that’s how that story would have played out.

Or, in any event, that’s how it would have played out if anyone had taken the time to find out what led to the meeting rather than assume it was a disciplinary, Come-To-Jesus sort of thing for a hot-blooded, Rolls-Royce driving showboat. But that never would’ve happened, I suppose, given that no one treats Yasiel Puig any differently than any other player. Perish the thought.

Regardless of what anyone in the media would’ve said about that, however, I’ll say this: Yasiel Puig calling a team meeting for the express purpose of asking his manager, coaches and veteran teammates to help him get better is a remarkably brave and mature thing to do. And anyone who wishes to weigh in on the alleged immaturity and recklessness of Yasiel Puig had best take this into account going forward. Because he is not playing by your narratives.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.