LOS ANGELES – You’d think by now the San Francisco Giants would be over Yasiel Puig. That by now, after five years of Yasiel Puig — and Wednesday night’s game at Dodger Stadium was their 81st against him — they’d have moved on.
They’d presumably have expected by now he’d have grown up, which is how this lingers, how parts of the game seem to choose sides.
Instead Puig and maybe Giants catcher Nick Hundley and others will hear from the league office any hour now. The news will be that they’ve been suspended or fined or both, because Yasiel Puig won’t stop being Yasiel Puig and the Giants can’t stop hating him for it.
Baseball insists on these prolonged snits. Grudges are sooner forgotten by pinkie-ringed underworld bosses.
So the Dodgers and Giants pushed each other around a little this week, down behind home plate while a game was supposed to be going on. And if you ask the Dodgers, they shrug and exhale, like whatta ya gonna do, he is who he is and does what he does, and they gotta live with it every day. And if you ask the Giants, they talk about acting like an adult and respecting the game, as though they are the ones to decide who is an adult and what honors the game. They’re not alone in that. Every player, manager and coach in every dugout believes he is the one to decide. It’s frankly exhausting.
Yasiel Puig is not going to change, whether you want him to or not. He’s going to have fun. He is going to be mad. He is going to regret the missed pitch and let everyone know. He is going to enjoy a home run. (And let everyone know.) He is going to mourn the strikeout. He is going to live those three hours on the edge of a game’s archaic rules of decorum, and slop over plenty, and care not how Nick Hundley or Madison Bumgarner or anyone else views it. Or him. That was him on day one. That is him 679 games later. That’ll be him tomorrow, unless he is suspended for defending a game that is as much his as it is theirs.
Really now, even if you don’t love the histrionics, who has the problem here? The guy wagging his tongue and slamming his bat (and harming exactly no one) every night? Or the team that can’t stop judging it, can’t stop nudging a feud that has grown one-sided?
Bruce Bochy, who on Wednesday night managed his 3,906th big-league baseball game, not counting maybe a thousand spring games, flattened his mustache with his hand and tried to sort it out.
“There are certain players in the league that I think you look at as guys other players get frustrated with, where there’s a lot of drama with them,” he said. “You know what? The game has changed a lot. It really has. I don’t let things bother me as much anymore, I really don’t.
“I don’t put a lot of thought into what he does.”
Yet that was his whole team out there behind the plate Tuesday night, putting thought – and some body weight – into what Yasiel Puig does.
As arguments go, baseball arguments are playground basic.
Apparently, according to those within earshot of Tuesday night’s events, Puig had grown disgusted by a series of pitches he believed he should have hit. With each swing and miss or foul ball or tame out, he’d uttered the same belligerent profanity. Started with an F. One word.
Hundley supposedly grew tired of that. So, he’d begun to shout back, the same word. Mimicking, mocking, chiding, whatever.
A rendering of the dialogue, then:
Not exactly Lincoln-Douglas.
But, then, none of this is. Time to move on.
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