Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 8/29/13
Hopefully, Major League Baseball can survive the affront to human decency that is Yasiel Puig. We kid, of course, but hyperbole and Puig have gone hand in hand ever since the Los Angeles Dodgers phenom burst onto the scene in June. Within two weeks of his major league debut, Puig inspired comparisons to Joe DiMaggio and prompted a heated debate over whether his stellar month deserved an All-Star nod. Now he’s gotten benched, though, and the kid who once represented Everything Good About Baseball has morphed into the personification of Everything Awful in Sports. The wisdom and usefulness of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly yanking Puig in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s win over the Cubs has been deconstructed elsewhere, so there is no need to dwell on it here. By now, you’re probably fairly convinced that sitting a player with a .963 OPS was either the dumbest baseball move imaginable or a necessary message to send a 22-year-old with many stellar years ahead of him. Yet what Puig and many of his detractors are failing to recognize is that Puig is not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, young superstar with million-dollar talent and — to steal Crash Davis’ phrase — a 10-cent head. We’ve seen this story before. We’ll see it again. Puig is a special talent, but he’s not special in and of himself. If anyone should be excused from this lack of self-awareness, it’s Puig. Rare is the hotshot rookie who understands he’s not the first human being in history to be really, really good at sports. Bryce “Clown Question, Bro” Harper still seems to be figuring it out. Hanley Ramirez, at the ripe old age of 29, has only recently gotten away from his habit of taking one step back for every two steps forward. In Puig’s mind, he actually may be God’s gift to baseball, because from what he’s seen, all the evidence to date backs that up. The rest of us should know better. As members of the media, we should also be mindful that our righteous indignation is at least a little self-serving. One year after a similarly stunning major league debut, Mike Trout has been pushed off the front page despite another outstanding season. The difference, of course, is that Trout has never yelled at a pitcher or hot-dogged a routine catch in the outfield. He’s not controversial; he’s just damn good, but “just damn good” isn’t sexy or exciting, apparently. That’s our fault — as reporters, as fans and as armchair managers. Look, Trout isn’t necessarily an inherently better person than Harper or Puig — well, he might be — but his transition into stardom was aided greatly by the presence of Torii Hunter, who watched over the future superstar and showed him the ropes of big league life. To Trout’s credit, he was receptive to Hunter’s advice, but he didn’t just magically appear as a 19-year-old and know how to act like a big leaguer. Whether such a support system is in place for the Dodgers is debatable. The veterans in their everyday lineup are either notorious for their own past transgressions, like Ramirez, or known for being non-confrontational types, like Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. If Mattingly were still playing, he’d be the ideal mentor for Puig, but he’s the manager now. Sometimes parishioners stop listening when you put on the preacher’s collar. Puig’s benching could be the first step toward him figuring it out or it could be the first step toward a Milton Bradley-esque spiral into a deeper world of crazy. But with or without Puig, the game will go on. Puig, as well as his detractors, would do well to remember that. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here. Filed under: Ben Watanabe, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, Opinion, Top Stories

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Odell Beckham Jr. appears to take shot at Ben McAdoo

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Chad Johnson says Roger Goodell consulted him on touchdown celebration rule change

Kevin Durant is not to blame for the NBA’s lack of parity, and he knows it

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Dodgers transfer Andrew Toles and Scott Kazmir to the 60-day disabled list

Looking back at 40 years of women racing in the Indianapolis 500

U.S. national soccer teams to wear LGBT-themed jerseys to celebrate pride month

Mike Zimmer: Teddy Bridgewater still has ‘long ways to go’

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker