When Yasiel Puig was traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds, one of the first people I thought of was Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke. I didn’t just think, though. I worried. I worried what Plaschke would do now that he was being deprived of one of his favorite punching bags.
And make no mistake: Plaschke hated Puig. Hated him with the heat of a thousand suns. He hated him so much that he became unhinged at times.
We’ve chronicled it before. He hated Puig’s bat flips and swagger. He hit him way, way harder for base running mistakes and missing the cutoff man than he’d ever hit anyone else, attributing such things to Puig’s inherent lack of character. When an opposing pitcher got crappy and chippy with Puig, it was somehow Puig’s fault (of course when other players do it, it’s fine). And no, Puig’s horrible, destructive nature was not limited to what he did on the baseball field. According to Plaschke Puig’s own personal history put Dodgers fans’ lives at risk.
No, I’m not kidding. Several years ago, when the story of Puig’s harrowing experience with human traffickers during his defection from Cuba, through Mexico and to the United States came to light, Plaschke cast Puig as a danger who could bring violence to Dodger Stadium:
• The story reports that late in the summer of 2012, the smugglers still wanted their money, and threatened to harm Puig unless he paid. Now that Puig is a multi-millionaire, are the smugglers still involved, and could that involvement one day lead to Dodger Stadium?
• The story notes that in the fall of 2012, one of the smugglers was killed, execution-style, after Puig allegedly complained about the harassment to his former agent, Gilberto Suarez. Could there be revenge involved, and could that one day lead to Dodger Stadium?
• The story details how Pacheco will be given 20% of all of Puig’s future earnings in a deal that is not unusual for desperate Cuban players. Does this mean that the rumors of Pacheco’s appearances around the Dodgers last year were true? Is this Miami man quietly pulling the strings on Puig’s turbulent life?
You read that correctly: Plaschke indirectly blamed Puig for someone’s murder as he was LITERALLY BEING HELD CAPTIVE BY HUMAN SMUGGLERS and worried that a reprisal for his snitching could lead to, I dunno, gun play during a Dodgers-Rockies game or something.
So when I say that Plashcke had it in for Puig, I am not overstating it. The guy was absolutely unhinged on the matter.
If I was worried about Plaschke being without his favorite repository for abuse, I was mistaken. Because even with Puig gone, Plaschke is taking shots at him. Here he is yesterday, at Dodgers Opening Day, talking about just how great things are in the Dodgers clubhouse now that Puig is gone:
Makes me wonder if he knows anything about Joe Kelly other than the fact that he is not Yasiel Puig. Because Kelly is a notorious goofball. And I mean that in the best sense of the term. He’s kind of flakey and fun and always has been. When he was traded by the Cardinals someone put together a list of his top 10 goofy moments. He’s a guy whose quirkiness is beloved by fans, and rightfully so.
I’m not going to suggest that Yasiel Puig was the best teammate every to don the Dodger blue. He rubbed people the wrong way sometimes. But if you’re comparing him unfavorably to Joe Kelly in the category of being “more businesslike” or as a “gamer” or “grinder,” I feel like you’re telling on yourself for a few things. Things like your ignorance. Things like your irrational hated of Yasiel Puig. Things like your biases of any number of other stripes.