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Yasiel Puig, workplace obstacle

How can you put Yasiel Puig in perspective? Here are a couple of suggestions ...


What we're missing about Yasiel Puig is perspective. Almost everyone reading this has no clue what it's like to be in a major-league clubhouse for 162 games. Almost everyone reading this has no clue what it's like to be in a major-league clubhouse for 1,000 games over a veteran career. The nuances, the mores, the culture. It's so foreign to us.

But most of us know what it's like to work in an office. Or a store or a restaurant. Somewhere where you have to work with the same people every day. And you know that being excellent at your job and being liked by everyone aren't the same thing. There are people who are excellent at what they do, but maybe they lack a certain decorum. Maybe they stick out a little bit, or they rub the old-timers the wrong way.

Put yourself in Don Mattingly's position, in other words. Imagine what it would be like if Puig were in the work environment you're used to.

Regional manager: … and thanks to Yasiel Puig in the Los Angeles office, we're on pace yet again to smash our monthly sales record.

Office: Yay!

Regional manager: Because of Puig, the bonuses kick in! Everyone wins the cruise to Acapulco!

Office: Yay!

Yasiel Puig, salesman: (chanting) Puig. Puig. Puig. Puig! Puig! Puig! PUIG! PUIG! PUIG!

Office: (confused) Puig! Puig! Puig!

Yasiel Puig, salesman: Yasiel Puig!

Yasiel Puig, salesman: /lights match on regional manager's bald head

Yasiel Puig, salesman: /smokes gigantic cigar and starts tipping things over

Yasiel Puig, salesman: Yasiel Puig!

How much is Puig worth to the Dodgers when it comes to wins and losses? Everything. A lot. It's hard to calculate. But unless he's actively gnawing on Clayton Kershaw's ankle in the dugout, there's almost no way his bizarre combination of unquenchable fire and self-satisfaction is going to make him anything but a net positive to the Dodgers' goal of winning games.

But Mattingly has a job. He has to manage personalities. And without any proof, I'm going to guess the prevailing attitude in the clubhouse from everyone 30 and over regarding Puig's attitude and style of play is something that translates to, "Dude, c'mon. Dude. Seriously. Come on."

What Puig is doing is so different. It's not just a talented player thinking he's better than everyone else. He is better than everyone else, and he knows it. And at the same time, he plays baseball like he has bees in his pants. There's a nuclear hustle that works in concert with the occasional mental lapse. It's bizarre. It's unheard of.

If you're Mattingly, do you ignore it? No way. There's no better way to announce that you don't know what you're doing, or that you can be replaced by a temp without anyone noticing. You have to address Puig picking dandelions in the outfield, or whatever in the heck he was doing that got him benched on Wednesday.

It's hard for us to reconcile because we can't fathom what Puig translates to in our everyday lives.

Landlord: Oh, thank god, Yasiel. I didn't think you'd get here so quickly! The whole main line is clogged. It's probably those damned roots again.

Yasiel Puig, plumber: /saunters over to toilet

Yasiel Puig, plumber: /plunges the absolute hell out of the toilet

Yasiel Puig, plumber: /gets dirty water everywhere

Yasiel Puig, plumber: /toilet briefly catches on fire

Yasiel Puig, plumber: Fixed.

Landlord: Wait, I … say, the water goes right down. And the water pressure in the shower is fantastic now. Wow!

Tenant: The sink doesn't drain slowly in the kitchen anymore! And he plunged up the engagement ring I lost down the drain six months ago!

Landlord: Amazing! Thanks, Yas … where'd he go? And why is "F*** Yeah, Puig!!!" written on the wall with a sharpie?

Tenant: Where'd the cat go?

The solution: minor checks and balances. Testing the water. Picking dandelions? That's a benching. For Skip Schumaker, no less. If you multiply Puig by Schumaker, you get one. That's how different they are to the Dodgers' goal of winning ballgames. Mattingly knows that Schumaker didn't give him the best chance to win on Wednesday. But Skip's presence gave Mattingly the best chance to win in September, October, and 2014, just because it sent a message to Puig. And Mattingly is doing some serious juggling.

Dr. Yasiel Puig, proctologist: /BURSTS INTO ROOM

Dr. Yasiel Puig, proctologist: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH


Dr. Yasiel Puig, proctologist: GRRAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH


Dr. Yasiel Puig, proctologist: GRRAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH


Dr. Yasiel Puig, proctologist: Turns out that spot on the x-ray was serious. But we caught it in time. You're gonna be alright.

Patient: Wow, great news, doc. Thanks! You saved my life!

Dr. Yasiel Puig, proctologist: /pulls out meat cleaver

Dr. Yasiel Puig, proctologist: YEAAAHHHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH


Do you know what the likely outcome is for the Dodgers this year? Disappointment. I'm not writing that because I'm a Giants fan. I'm writing that because it's something of an empirical fact. There will be eight teams in the wacky end-of-the-season tournament, and here's a spoiler: They're all going to be pretty evenly matched. You can argue about Pythagorean records or pitching staffs or bullpens, but in a best-of-five or -seven series, all eight of those teams are going to be pretty much the same. The difference between a .300 hitter and a .400 hitter means something over 162 games, but almost nothing over five or seven games.The odds are good that every team in the playoffs is going to end up like the 2001 Mariners, wondering what in the heck happened.

If that happens to the Dodgers, people are going to start wondering what went wrong. An answer of "baseball" isn't going to be good enough. So they'll plant the seed that Mattingly was too lenient. The veterans felt pushed aside. The unchecked brashness of Puig ruined everything. And while you'll be pretty sure that's hokum, maybe there's someone in the ownership group who isn't so sure. If Mattingly lets everything slide, he'll be considered culpable, even if that's unfair.

You avoid that scenario with things like a benching after dandelions get picked. It's a simple gesture, and to Puig's credit, he said the right things and he absorbed the blame.

Message sent. Message received. Nothing more than that. Move on. The boss had to address it. He did. Puig's cool, everyone's cool.

Until October, at least. Should be ... interesting.

More from Baseball Nation:

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