Los Angeles Dodgers rookie phenom Yasiel Puig’s only 4 games into his big league career and already putting together quite the highlight reel.
Is it possible for a ballplayer to become a living legend in the first week of his career? Yasiel Puig’s performance so far seems to indicate “yes.” Certainly there’s the reality that as the league sees a player more that they tend to “catch up” to that player and that the player then needs to make adjustments.
There’s also this reality: Yasiel Puig has ice-water in his veins. His idea of “making adjustments” at the plate so far seem to consist of seeing a baseball and hitting it. Outs, runners on base, score and situation all seem to not matter over these first four games. Neither does fan expectation. We’re talking about a 22 year old kid who shows the poise of a 32 year old vet at the plate.
I’ve been fortunate to see all 3 of Puig’s homers so far. Last night’s came on an 81 MPH first pitch slider that Puig stayed back on for just a second, then shot out to right field. The young phenom’s small sample size would lead one to believe that he has the ability to hit laser beams out of the park to right and right-center, and hit devastating moon shots whenever he pulls the ball, like his 439 foot blast on his first home run.
I got the sense that something was about to happen during Hanley Ramirez’s pinch hit and started filming on my cell phone. The Hanley at-bat was relatively non-eventful, 4 straight balls. But with each ball and the realization that a walk would load the bases for Puig, the crowd buzz got greater. There was a mound meeting, and you can hear me on the video make a crack about what the pitching coach might be saying to reliever Cory Gearrin. “Now, I don’t want you to worry about this, but the last time he came up with guys on base, he hit the ball 440 feet.” After that I note how the ballplayer conversations are always a secret and that just as the umpire gets there they break it up and how the umpire must feel left out. Then Puig steps up, the place goes nuts, and it’s the fan reaction just as much as anything that I capture in this video..but of course the call’s on there, too. Not as artful as Vin Scully, but it works.
The energy at Dodger Stadium was off the hook last night, and only four games into his Major League career, Yasiel Puig is already making some memories that fans won’t soon forget. The scariest part for the National League West and the best news for Dodger fans is that this is just the beginning. Puig’s under team control through 2019.
Final score: Dodgers 5, Braves 0. Zack Greinke picks up the win with 7 scoreless innings in a 120 pitch performance. Tim Hudson pitched brilliantly for Atlanta but Schumaker’s RBI ground-out against him plated a run that put him on the hook for the loss.
And Yasiel Puig added to an already-growing legend. “I’m calling him The Cuban Missle Crisis” I said to some fans as we all walked out of the ballpark. “Not a crisis for us,” one of them replied, to which I responded “but a crisis for the rest of the league.”