Culbreath: Old Man Baseball and Yasiel PuigWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | email@example.com
How does a guy play baseball in the majors for a month and draw consideration for an All-Star spot?
The young Cuban defector was called up from Triple-A Chattanooga to the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 2 to replace the likes of Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford. Puig was considered to be a top prospect, but this was ridiculous. In the 26 games he played in June, he batted .436, with a .713 slugging percentage. He hit seven homeruns and drove in 16 runs. Dude has an arm as well, turning a game ending double play on a fly ball from right field on his first day on the field. Maybe he’ll regress to the mean at some point, but that point is not right now. Puig was named both Rookie of the Month and Player of the Month in June.
And with the Mid-Summer Classic coming up, you’d think baseball would be stupid to keep the hottest bat in the game out of the spotlight, right?
Yeah, I forgot too… this is Old Man Baseball we’re talking about. The All-Star rosters were recently announced, and Yasiel was, of course, left off to the Final Vote tally instead of the real deal.
Jonathan Papelbon of the Philadelphia Phillies immediately shot down Yasiel while talking to MLB Radio, saying ,“The guy’s got a month. I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues. … Saying he’s going to make the All-Star team, that’s a joke to me.”
Papelbon said that putting Puig in the game does an injustice to an 8- to 10-year veteran who would miss out on the roster spot.
There’s Old Man Baseball again. Sit down, young’un, with all your exciting speed and your fantastic arm. Don’t need to get all hasty with putting you in the spotlight or anything, because we need to make room for the guy who’s already played in four All-Star Games. See, he deserves it more. Hell, that vet might just be a Hall of Famer one day! I mean, not a first ballot guy. Let’s not get crazy, now.
Let’s not forget that the Phillies let Puig hit .438 against them in its four-game series.
Puig’s own manager, Don Mattingly, hemmed and hawed around the issue, saying that Puig is making his case, and would have made a better one if he’d come up sooner. Mattingly’s problem is more with the format of the All-Star Game; Mattingly claims that if it were still an exhibition game (instead of determining home-field advantage in the World Series), it would be easier to include Puig in the mix.
I see it as just the opposite. If that game counts (and it does), then you absolutely need the hottest player in the game on the roster. Watch him continue to hit everything thrown his way. Maybe take one yard. Run home from second base on a groundout, like he did earlier this week. If the Senior Circuit wants its fourth straight World Series win, it’ll want every advantage it can get. You’re going to tell me you’re going to pass on this kid because Old Man Baseball demands you pick one of his bocce ball friends?
Is there the chance that Puig regresses to the mean? Absolutely. Heck, maybe the All-Star Game is the event that shakes him off. I can’t be worried about that, though. I’m worried that the young gun that is turning heads got passed up because the fraternity hasn’t officially certified him as a member.
The All-Star Game is the only one of these exhibitions that actually matters in the minds of sports fans. Nobody cares about the Pro Bowl, and the NBA and NHL get more coverage for their skill competitions than they do the actual game. Old Man Baseball needs to get out of its own way and let one of the great stories of the year shine on the national stage.