Shockingly, Bill Plashcke’s take on the L.A. Magazine story about Yasiel Puig misses the point

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On the one hand, kudos to Bill Plaschke for reading the story about Yasiel Puig from Jesse Katz and L.A. Magazine and acknowledging that maybe there’s a little bit more to Puig than his failure to hit the cutoff man.

On the other hand, it’s interesting that, given all of the harrowing details of Puig’s passage to the United States and the personal threats that he was subjected to along the way, Plaschke makes a point to repeatedly talk about it in terms of how all of that could threaten Dodger Stadium, Dodgers fans and other Dodgers players:

Now that Puig is a multi-millionaire, are the smugglers still involved, and could that involvement one day lead to Dodger Stadium? . . . Could there be revenge involved, and could that one day lead to Dodger Stadium? . . .  Since security issues are best kept secure, the Dodgers are just probably being responsible in not acknowledging what they are doing to protect Puig and everyone — fans and players included — around him . . . One can only hope this season the added security remains, both on the field and in the stands, particularly when Puig is standing alone in right field.

I guess it’s nice that he included threats to Puig himself at the end there. I mean, it’s not all about the danger Plaschke believes Puig represents to law abiding Dodgers fans and teammates.

Of course, more broadly, Plaschke misses the point. While, yes, some danger to Puig is something to be concerned about given what he’s gone through, there was no suggestion in either the L.A. Magazine story or in the history of other Cuban players in the United States that violence and acts of terrorism at the ballpark are a specific concern, let alone any that pose a threat to fans. Rather, it’s about how the player himself had to experience some crazy and scary things and how that both shapes him and shapes others who have to go through that ordeal.

But, of course, to some people, Puig will always be a problem rather than a person, and the basic humanity of the guy at question will be secondary to the dissatisfaction or threat he presents to others, legitimate or otherwise.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.