Some Dodger Teammates Really Hate Yasiel Puig, Despite His Talent
Ever since he made his crazy journey to America to play baseball, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been a flashpoint of contention among fans, sportswriters, and even his own teammates.Although criticism of his flashy personality and style of play has typically been the fodder of cranky sportswriters (we're looking at you, Bill Plaschke), "character issues"—as they're called in the industry—have long dogged Puig even before he signed with a Major League team. He has been at the center of a handful of near brawls with opposing teams, and a new book reveals at least one incident where he had to be held back from fighting his own teammate.
"At this point, it would be addition by subtraction," an unidentified Dodger player told Yahoo! Sports. Teammates have resented the sense of entitlement the 24-year old Cuban seems to possess, no doubt stemming at least partly from his preternatural talent and the 7-year, $42 million deal he signed in the summer of 2012 with the team. His seeming lack of work ethic in practice and his bad habit of showing up late to games certainly don't help. In a story from last year recounted in Molly Knight's forthcoming The Best Team Money Can Buy, Puig had to be restrained when teammate Zack Greinke spitefully threw his luggage into the street while the team was in Chicago. Puig's misbehavior has also found its way off the field, such as being arrested twice for driving over 100 m.p.h.
Managing the miscreant that is Puig has been one of the challenges that faces Dodger management. "Whatever Puig's issues were, he was one of the best players in the game, he sold tickets, and he was relatively cheap," writes Knight. Even his teammates realize that even though Puig can be an enormous pain in the ass, he's a special player. "That's the biggest Catch-22," said the same player who called him 'addition by subtraction.' "He's a top three or four talent in baseball."
Even with all the baggage, Puig is an integral part of the Dodgers' success in recent years. In his last two seasons with the team they've won the division and at least 92 games, and by advanced statistics has been worth at least four wins each season. Aesthetically, his spectacular and sometimes reckless style of play brings an electricity to a sport otherwise thought of as old-fashioned and stuffy by most casual fans.
Baseball wouldn't nearly be as fun without his bat flips. Viva Puig!