Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig penned a special article for MLB.com titled, “In my Words: Puig growing as ballplayer, man.” He writes about his motivations for playing the game, which include his new son Daniel Sebastian and doing charitable work in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Puig has been a lightning rod for controversy since signing a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers in June 2012. His production has fluctuated at times, which has been frustrating for Dodgers fans. But the thing that has enraged the most people is Puig’s penchant for flipping the bat. His rival, no surprise, is Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, as the two have squared off many times as NL West rivals.
In Puig’s article, he clarifies his bat-flipping:
There is a passion I have and we have as Latinos because we love to have fun, we love to show our joy on the field, and I think sometimes that confuses people. Sometimes, other teams get upset with our bat flips or expressions, but that’s how we show our joy. The pitcher can strike you out four times in a game so we like to show our joy when we hit that one home run. Baseball is fun. It’s exciting. I enjoy it. It’s a game.
It is saddening that Puig felt he needed to clarify this in his article. As we’ve noted here several times, there does seem to be a cultural war happening within baseball, however, and Puig is one of the biggest faces in that war, along with Jose Bautista. One one side, you have mostly white players who think the game should be played with as little emotion as possible. And on the other side, you have players who have mostly come from poorer areas like the D.R., Cuba, and Mexico that grew up playing a game that was to them as much a party as a contest.
Puig, ultimately, is right: it’s a game. And it’s a game that’s struggling to reach younger audiences. Maybe let the players have some fun, yeah?