Yasiel Puig is taking bat-flipping to the next level

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I haven’t watched the David Ortiz-produced “Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave” show on MTV2 for a couple of reasons. The biggest of which is that I’m not really the demographic they’re shooting for. “Off the Bat” is aimed at younger people and is an (admirable, in my view) effort to try to market MLB players in ways the league really hasn’t done much of before. Since it is speculated by experts that I don’t enjoy or appreciate baseball, all this fun and jocularity is all lost on me.

But I may have to change that policy this week, because this is happening:

source:
Taylor Baucom/MLB Photos

According to the press release, “Yasiel Puig flips a bat for every occasion.” Which is pretty fantastic. In the likely event that I die before Puig, I would want him to do a bat-flip salute at my funeral. Maybe we could get Carlos Gomez to be a pallbearer too. Let him decide if he wants to do a slow strut to the grave or one of those fast sprints he sometimes does. Regardless, I’d probably pay Puig and Gomez $200/hr to walk and/or strut around my son’s birthday party and flip bats and things.

This week’s “Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave” airs at 11pm tomorrow night on MTV2. Ain’t gonna lie, I’m gonna watch this thing.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.