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.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.