Dear baseball fans,
By now you have probably heard of the Dodgers' rookie phenom Yasiel Puig. You may have seen highlights of his diving catches, laser throws and monster homeruns. You may have heard Vin Scully discussing the "Wild Horse" circling the bases. Surely you have heard his name as the center of much debate since he burst onto the scene.
But despite all of his talents, the baseball community seems to be focused only on one thing: How much fun the guy is having.
Following a slump-busting swing against the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLCS, Puig performed a bat flip celebration that even the German judge would give a 10. It was masterful. The technique was truly brilliant — a work of art.
If you won't take my word for it, check it out here: The Bat flip. (That trajectory, that majestic arch.)
The problem was that despite his celebratory antics, the ball didn't leave the park. It wasn't until the Cuban defector reached first base (hand still raised to the heavens) that he realized his missile had struck the top of the wall.
L.A.'s main man then kicked it into gear — racing all the way to third for a "get up, stand up" kind of triple.
Once the (suddenly hurried) running was through, the celebration set off like a San Diego fireworks show. Hands and elbows and applause and smiles and howls filled Dodger stadium (the fans in the stands were pretty excited too).
Pretty fun, right?
Not everyone thought so following the game. Enter Carlos Beltran:
"As a player, I just think he doesn't know [how to act]. That's what I think. He really doesn't know. He must think that he's still playing somewhere else.
"He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that — great ability, great talent. I think with time he'll learn that you've got to act with a little bit more calm."
Innocent enough, but it is a feeling that has been echoing through the old-school world of baseball for months now from players and fans alike. People who want to keep the best of America's pastime in a past time.
The fact is, baseball needs more Yasiel Puigs on its fields. Following the steroids PR disaster — which simultaneously hindered the game's number one sell: the homerun — baseball needs to do everything it can to liven things up.
Be thrilled, get fired up, do a few Mickey Mouse celebrations, flip a few bats.
Because it is fun to watch. Because I don't need to spend 3 or 4 hours watching people modestly and calmly throw a ball around a park.
Puig who turns 23 in December is likely younger than almost everyone reading this post. Tell me, what were you doing at 23? Wouldn't you be excited to the moon and back that you got to move to Los Angeles, get paid $10s of millions, wear a Dodgers uniform and hit a baseball in October?
Who are we, as fans, to act so high-and-mighty? He is playing a game where you throw a ball and swing a stick and for some reason he is expected take everything so seriously.
So next time you feel like tightening your crown — remember that this kid's life went from 0-60 and he is thouroughly enjoying the game he loves.
I, for one, hope to see many more signature moments to come.