It takes an awful lot to get me heated about baseball. The arbitrary one-game playoff that Bud Selig concocted in 2012 did it just fine. You know, the rule that eliminated a 94-win Braves team from postseason contention after just nine innings of baseball. The idea, from the start, had little merit, but was created anyway in the name of adding excitement to a sport in desperate need of it. Now, though, many in baseball have abandoned this search for intrigue in an effort to keep Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig out of July’s All-Star game. Of course, I’m once again heated.
The argument against the 22-year-old right fielder is that he has only appeared in 27 games, a relatively short stint when you consider his team had played 82 heading into Wednesday. Even still, it’s hard for anyone to argue the kid’s value. In the aforementioned 27 contests, Puig has an amazing 47 hits. In the history of major league baseball, only Joe Dimaggio has been as prolific, with 50 hits during the same span. Puig also has eight homers during his historic run in the big leagues, which is good enough for another Dodgers record. I should also mention that LA is 39-43 on the year, but 16-11 since Puig joined the team, winning nine of its last 10 outings. And, oh by the way, the Cuban product also has 17 RBI while also hitting a red-hot .443. Simply put, he’s presently the best and most valuable player in the sport.
Obvious value and contributions aside, though, and the argument for Puig’s All-Star status remains just as strong. The annual game exists as a form of entertainment, most notably for baseball’s fans. If the question wasn’t about what he's earned, but instead centered around who the fans want to see, Yasiel Puig would be a lock to make the game. And I was under the impression that at least here the fans do matter most. In fact, the game is apparently so much about the fans that baseball has a mandate stipulating that each team gets a player, even if some miserable teams have no one deserving. Of course, this rule is in place in an effort to embrace the fans of even baseball’s worst teams because, after all, the game is all about entertaining those who support the sport. You can’t, then, tell me that the 30-win Miami Marlins deserve an All-Star in the name of entertainment, but Yasiel Puig doesn’t belong. You can’t create a one-game playoff out of nowhere all in the name of captivating your audience and then turn around and tell the same group of people that baseball’s most exciting player, the future of the sport, isn’t even an All-Star. If the game is indeed about putting on a show to celebrate baseball and those who love it, Yaisel Puig is as All-Star worthy as any player out there.
Deciding on Dwight…
Quickly, I’d like to close with a little something on Dwight Howard. The Atlanta native and free agent center met with the Hawks on Monday, and is reportedly considering a move to Atlanta along with ones to Dallas, Houston and Golden State. Of course, he may also stay in LA, though I’ve said that won’t happen since the day Orlando decided to move the then disgruntled superstar.
Anyway, with Dwight on the mind, I’ve received a bunch of texts and phone calls recently from Hawks fans during my weekend radio shifts and many have said they don’t want Howard in Atlanta. I’d be lying if I said these texts and calls don’t have me baffled.
Not only is Dwight by far the best center in a league devoid of centers (which even greater accentuates his value), but it’s not like the Hawks are in a position to be overly selective. The team presently has just three players on its roster, and for the most part no real All-Star (Al Horford has just two All-Star appearances). And even with a treasure chest of money to throw at free agents, Atlanta remains an unpopular destination for elite players. I know Dwight has his shortcomings, mostly upstairs in that childish brain of his, but that same immature center led an Orlando Magic starting five that included Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee all the way to the NBA Finals. In short, Hawks fans are grossly underestimating Dwight’s value and equally overestimating their city’s appeal. Beggars can’t be choosers. In a huge way, Dwight would make Atlanta basketball relevant again…this city would be more than lucky to have him.
OK, that’s all I’ve got for now, but if you’re interested in doing so, you're more than welcome follow me on Twitter @BrainTrain9.