Let Him Play: Puig and the Midsummer Classic

There’s a large island just about 90 miles south of the United States. It’s housed nuclear missiles from Russia with love, been subject to a trade embargo by the U.S., and forced some of the world’s best baseball players to scurry from their motherland in search of a better life in America.

Out of 20 current MLB athletes, the Los Angeles Dodgers Right Fielder Yasiel Puig presents probably the most prolific example of a Cuban coming to America and thrilling throngs of people in the crowds of big league ballparks.

Puig, who debuted a little over one month ago on June 3rd, has set afire baseball and is batting .409 with eight homeruns and 19 RBIs. Puig’s towering, muscular body possesses the ability to make even his peers seem foolish – like he’s on high school Varsity while they’re on Little League squads.

In his Major League debut, he won the Dodgers the game with his arm alone as he unleashed a throw as fast as a bullet train and doubled off a stealing base runner to give the Dodgers the 2-1 victory. Then, the next night, he homered twice and became the first Dodger to drive in three runs in his first two games since 1958. In his fourth game he hit a grand-slam and, more astoundingly, left legendary announcer Vin Scully without words to say. That’s when you know you’ve made it in the game – when Vin Scully can’t verbalize what he just saw. Then, to put the cherry on the sundae, he joined DiMaggio as the only player in history to have 40 hits and 4 homeruns in a debut month Puig’s .436 batting average also broke DiMaggio’s 77-year old record of highest average.

So after all that resumé inflation and puffing of the chest, what does it mean? That’s the debate raging on currently as Puig failed to make the National League All-Star team outright. However, as the merciful baseball gods would have it, Puig has a second chance. The Final Vote opportunity gives Puig a final huzzah in spurring him towards the game.

Yasiel Puig should be in the All-Star game. He hustles harder than his name is to pronounce and, regardless of what Jonathan Papelbon says, age shouldn’t put a limit on who gets to go Citi Field this year.

Think about it. Someone like myself who lives on the East Coast and goes to sleep before the West Coast contests get to the second inning doesn’t get to see much of Puig. I’m forced to rely on articles and video highlights to take in Hurricane Puig – the storm that’s sweeping the West Coast. His participation in the All-Star game would give every baseball fan the opportunity to see the best of the beloved sport.

Sentimentality aside, the All-Star game isn’t an unimportant, inconsequential, Skip Bayless’ opinion sort of matter. It decides home-field advantage in the World Series which could swing momentum and rotation decisions. Especially in dichotomous places like Fenway Park’s shallow dimensions compared to Minute Maid Park in Houston with the largest expanses of grass to the fence. (But, no worries there for at least five years, then, maybe and only maybe, will Houston be a .500 ball club). The All-Star game matters and so should the selection of the players.

Would you rather have someone else at the All-Star game just because they’ve played a season or two more, but aren’t as exciting? And Bryce Harper received the honor of an All-Star selection last season with only 69 games played, who decides the finite number of necessary games to become an All-Star? It’s a ridiculous argument – let Puig play.

Just because the All-Star game matters doesn’t mean it’s always exciting. Remember the 2002 midsummer classic when the game ended in a 7-7 tie because teams ran out of available pitchers? Me neither, I was six years old, but still, a tie? A tie? As a sports fan I think that might be the worst of all evils and just the concept of a tie makes me slightly sick and very upset.

To continue how ludicrously valuable Puig stands to the Dodgers – he earns less than one percent of the Dodger’s opening day total payroll of $220 million and is their best player.

In fact, he might even be the National League’s best player.

And if you’re trying to win a baseball game, why not have the best player?

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