It’s difficult for us to understand Yasiel Puig’s lack of understanding

Dan Le Batard – Miami Herald

  • In this article, Le Batard critiques American society, and the media more specifically, on their lack of understanding of young Yasiel Puig’s roots. Puig has been subject to both extremely harsh criticism as well as overblown praise thus far in his career, but it seems that the 23-year-old kid hasn’t quite put it all together. Le Batard encourages more media consumers to understand the world where some Latin American ballplayers, such as Puig, come from, citing examples such as Ariel Prieto carrying around a $1.2 million bonus check in his back pocket for weeks when he first arrived in the US because he didn’t know anything about currency or banks. Puig’s story is pretty well-documented, coming from an incredibly poor family in Cuba, unsuccessfully attempting to defect countless times, all the while knowing he had the skills to succeed in Major League Baseball.  Le Batard acknowledges that Puig has made many, many mistakes so far, and actions such as speeding in his fancy new cars and arriving late to games should be corrected; however, he argues that Americans need to start cutting the guy some slack because this cultural adjustment wouldn’t be easy for any of us.

“Even gentleman poet Vin Scully, voice of baseball, calls Puig “a wild horse,” an animal that must be tamed or broken, and the media clucks in agreement, calling a very proud human being an animal. Funny, Puig is supposed to be the one with the language problem.” — Dan Le Batard

  • I absolutely loved this article for two reasons: 1) I 100% agree with it and have been preaching the same argument since Puig broke out in the big leagues and 2) Le Batard didn’t give in to the “Hollywood effect” and overblow Puig’s antics — he simply gave his honest opinion. How refreshing. I find it very hard to comprehend why many people don’t try to relate to Puig a little bit more and understand the different culture he comes from. From his aggressive style of play to his aggressive driving, I think Americans need to understand something: the guy is only 23-years-old and he should still be immature (it’s not like Bryce Harper hasn’t caused a little controversy himself). But more importantly, he’s visibly trying to assimilate to this new culture and avoid further issues. It’s taking time, but going from having no money in communist Cuba to a $42 million paycheck in the land of the free, wouldn’t you need a little time, too?
Always an adventure. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Always an adventure. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Exec: ‘Games should be 7 innings’

Buster Olney – ESPN.com

  • Olney relays a conversation he had with a high-ranking Major League executive last week in which they discussed the ever-increasing number of pitchers in need of Tommy John surgery this season. The exec finds this to be a huge issue, but unlike many of his peers, he feels that there is a simple solution: Shorten games to only 7 innings. Olney says the exec believes that shorter games would provide a dual benefit of protecting pitchers and appealing to a younger demographic, which holds a shorter attention span than in generations past due to the rapid flow of information that the age of technology has brought upon us. Olney asserts that this will never happen, as “no one would have the guts to do it,” and baseball fans like tidy numbers: 9 innings, 27 outs, 1 game.
  • I have to say, even though I am a part of the younger generation that this exec is referring to, I would never vouch for his proposal. 7 inning games would radically change the game itself, from strategy to statistics. As Olney outlines, imagine how much harder it would be to achieve the famed benchmark achievements of 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, 200 hits in a season. All this would be jeopardized if MLB cut out 324 innings each season from each team and each player. Interesting idea, but it will never happen.

First Reviews Confirm Replay as a Strategy, Not a Cure-All

Tyler Kepner – NY Times

  • In this piece, Kepner claims that we should not be surprised that calls are still being blown in Major League Baseball even with the new replay system in place. He claims that from the get-go, the replay system was not intended to get every single call right.  Kepner juxtaposes the differing strategies of sabermetricians that advise using challenges at the first opportunity, while traditionalists like Tony LaRussa have been advising clubs and managers to “use their guts” and only challenge on pivotal plays.
So, does anyone really know what we're doing here? (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

So, does anyone really know what we’re doing here? (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“What we’re trying to eliminate are the game-changing moments that affect the competition, embarrass the umpires and benefit one team that didn’t deserve the call.” — Tony LaRussa

  • This whole thing has so much gray area. I honestly haven’t talked to one person yet who fully understands the system we have in place. I think a better understanding of exactly where, when, and how managers can challenge calls will eventually lead to managers’ ability to utilize set strategies because each side of the argument makes a valid point. The sabermetric guys are correct in that pivotal plays can happen at any time and it is probably safer to use challenges earlier, but La Russa is correct as well in that challenges should only be used in the most important times of a game. But how does anyone really know exactly what a “pivotal play” looks like?

Can the Pirates retread Volquez?

Jerry Crasnick – ESPN.com

  • Very interesting behind-the-scenes look at the Pirates’ strategy behind picking up so many washed-up pitchers in recent years. Crasnick outlines how Pittsburgh began several years ago on a quest to target specific pitchers as “resurrection candidates,” leading to the signings of Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett, Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon … the list goes on. While the rest of the league had essentially written these guys off, the Pirates took fliers on all of them and led them through a unique coaching system that allows for simplicity. The Pirates are so thorough in their scouting, that their latest “risky” signing, Edinson Volquez, was presented with game film from every season he has pitched at every level — even as far back as when he was 16, pitching  in the Dominican Republic. Pitching coach Ray Searage believes in letting pitchers be themselves, preferring each pitchers’ respective natural mechanics over extreme overhauls that often lead to inconsistent deliveries. Although this project hasn’t worked for every pitcher the Pirates brought in, it has proven to be successful for many, and they hope to bring Volquez back to form this season.
  • Small-market teams with low payrolls have been very successful in recent years due to exploitation of market inefficiencies. I’m not going to go as far as calling it a “stroke of genius” in the free agent market, but this certainly has worked well for Pittsburgh. The Yankees, of all teams, even used this strategy in 2011 with a pretty good deal of success when they brought in both Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, whom each experienced their own career resurrections when given a chance by the Bombers. This is obviously more valuable for teams who didn’t just drop $155 million on Masahiro Tanaka, and I am interested to see if teams like the Indians, A’s, and Rays begin utilizing this strategy to their own benefits as well.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Alex who? Yankees unfazed by A-Rod absence

Dan Martin – NY Post

  • Not much substance to this story, but Martin reports that the Yankees haven’t skipped a beat without A-Rod around in the clubhouse. Martin provides several quotes from Yankees teammates who all reiterated their lack of sadness or longing for such a great guy to be back on the field with them.

“When asked in Houston if he had ‘spoken to Alex recently,’ CC Sabathia said, ‘Who?’ ”  –Dan Martin

  • Personally, I just think Sabathia’s response is hilarious. It has to be such a relief to this team to have A-Rod out of their hair this season and largely out of the press. These guys were bombarded with the A-Rod circus in 2013, and they can finally focus on things that actually matter this season, like the Derek Jeter farewell tour and CC Sabathia’s diminished velocity. Gotta love New York media.
#iamarod (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

#iamarod (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

About The Author

Andrew Tweedy
Chief Bossman

I'm a Yankees fan writing about the Giants. Go team.