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.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.