Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig has breathlessly energized and electrified the Dodgers and Major League Baseball by arguably having one of the best debut months (perhaps the best ever) in the history of the game.
Fans have clamored that Puig make next week’s All-Star game, arguing it will be great for Major League Baseball’s brand, which risks being tarnished again by the the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal involving superstars like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez.
Puig is currently second in the “Final Vote” behind Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. And for Dodger fans, it may be best if Puig remained in second and did not make the Midsummer Classic.
In recent weeks, Puig, partly because of English is not his first language and also because he does not want to overshadow some of his more established teammates after playing barely a month in the league has shown a reluctance to embrace the spotlight he will soon have to love to be under.
Not making the All-Star team will allow him to mentally rest and not have to deal with the worldwide media demands that will come on one of baseball grandest stages that is used to showcase the game, brand, and top players to a global audience.
Consider also that Puig, though some have mistaken him for a super human, has violently crashed into the right field wall twice. He got the best of the wall the first time (Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, whose job Puig most likely saved, told reporters that they “checked the wall” and “it’s fine.), and the wall may have gotten the better of him the second time, as Puig was forced to leave a game in Colorado last week with a bruised thigh. (He did stay in the game to hit a sacrifice fly with his arms before being taken out for precautionary reasons.) Suffice it to say that Dodger fans do not want to see a rubber match between Puig and the right field wall.
He has also stayed in a game after getting hit in the nose with a pitch against Arizona, almost fought the entire Diamondbacks team in a massive bench-clearing melee that resulted in part because the Dodgers, particularly Zack Greinke, came to his defense. He almost broke his body when sliding head-first into first base, as ill-advised as that was. And has been such a burst of energy who plays every game like it will be his last that he has even spurred teammates like Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, bad hamstring and all, to hustle like they are trying to make the team in Spring Training.
With Matt Kemp going on the disabled list, the Dodgers will need Puig to be health in body and mind going forward if they are to continue their momentum after the All-Star break and challenge for the National League West crown.
And right now, the best way to ensure Puig remains fresh is for him not to make the All-Star team. Puig, if he has the mentality of greats in other sports like Michael Jordan, could even use the “snub” not only as motivation against Bruce Bochy, the manager of the hated Giants who will manage the National League, but also as a reminder to play as spirited as he is now so, as Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, he make many more All-Star games in the future and know those opportunities can never be taken for granted.
If Puig continues his torrid pace after the All-Star game, the demands on his time will astronomically increase even more. If he does not make the All-Star game, Puig will be mentally ready and rested for what lies ahead if he continues at his mind-boggling pace.