Yasiel Puig Newsbeat
Monday, September 15, 2014
Cuba is one of the biggest sources of international baseball talent. But, because of the US embargo, most Cuban players have to use smugglers to get themselves to the United States. What’s more, due to a quirk in Major League Baseball rules around contracts, those Cuban players often first have to travel to a third country, like Mexico — a difficult process.
And that’s where traffickers come in. In recent years, some Major League Baseball players have revealed that a variety of criminals have been kidnapping and extorting talented Cuban players before they can get a major league contract — in order to get a cut of their future earnings. Some of these traffickers may even have ties to Mexican cartels.
This issue is only just starting to get attention from courts and investigators — the first conviction of a smuggler for trafficking Cuban ballplayers happened in 2011. These trafficking cases involve dozens of Cuban ballplayers, most of whom never even make it to the major leagues.
This year, Cuban-born Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig became the poster boy for ballplayer trafficking. In his journey to the United States, Puig was kidnapped and extorted — and some of the traffickers he was involved with have even resorted to murder as they try to get a share of his salary. Puig’s lurid story, and his stature as a star, have brought the trafficking issue to the attention of baseball commentators.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Uh oh, Brian McCann might block Gomez’ path to the ice water.
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Albert Pujols insisted that he was just playing within the confines of the game, because the Angels’ lead was only five and the Dodgers’ high-powered offense would still get to bat a couple more times.
In the process, though, the Angels’ veteran first baseman might have taught the young, eccentric Yasiel Puig a valuable lesson.
That lesson: Never forget about the runner on base, no matter who he is and where he’s stationed.
Posted: August 05, 2014 at 11:23 AM | 35 comment(s)
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Yasiel Puig returned to the lineup with a bang-bang-bang on Friday night, becoming the first Los Angeles Dodgers player since Jimmy Sheckard in 1901 to hit three triples in a single game.
...he became the 49th player in MLB history with at least three triples.
Jimmy Sheckard! That’s who Puig reminds me of! Man, that’s been bugging me.
The first triple was a little sporty. A drive into left center that was batted down by a fan. The umps spent four minutes looking at it and then awarded him a triple, which seems unlikely given the ball was left of center but whatever. I’m sure nobody wanted the headache of telling him to go back to second.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Mr. Burns, I think we can trust the President of Cuba.
Eventually, the players who leave the island establish residency in another country and are declared free agents. Workouts are scheduled, sometimes attracting 200 scouts and executives if the player is a big enough star.
Sometimes, a player may work out for a specific team, as Abreu did for the Reds when they wanted to see if he could play third base or left field (he couldn’t, at least not to their satisfaction, and with Joey Votto set at first base, they reluctantly dropped out of the bidding).
Eventually, a player signs pending a physical exam, which can be something of an adventure in itself. The Dodgers had to have someone drive Puig 1.5 hours across Mexico City to find an MRI machine. When the Reds recently signed pitcher Raisel Iglesias, scheduling the physical was almost a bigger obstacle than negotiating the contract.
“We were working on a tight deadline, and the kid couldn’t get a visa yet to come to the Dominican Republic or the U.S.,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty explained. “We finally brought a doctor from the Dominican, and a Spanish-speaking doctor we work with in Cincinnati, to see the kid in Haiti. But then they had to find an MRI machine in Haiti.”
It all got done, and now the Reds will hope Iglesias does as well for them as Chapman has. He was nearly as expensive, costing the Reds $27 million for a seven-year contract, even though he wasn’t as highly touted as Chapman (who got $30.25 million for six years in January 2010).
The prices keep going up, which only makes the decisions tougher.
“The gut feel has to be there,” said Don Welke, a top Rangers scout who has been to many Cuban showcases and was involved in the signing of outfielder Leonys Martin. “It’s huge risk, huge reward. As it’s turned out recently, whoever has taken the risk has gotten the reward.
“But some scout had to stick his neck out for every one of these guys. And you’d better darn well be right, because your owner is asking you why you want to spend so much on a guy you only saw in two workouts.”
Posted: July 14, 2014 at 03:17 PM | 3 comment(s)
Monday, June 02, 2014
“I think Puig is definitely in this family of nearly mythical characters.” ~ John Thorn
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Puig is being sued for $12 million in an action that alleges he wrongfully accused the man, Miguel Angel Corbacho Daudinot, of attempting to set up a prior defection from his native Cuba. The plaintiff was sentenced to seven years in jail as a result of Puig’s testimony.
If he really got a guy sentenced to 7 years with a false testimony, that’s pretty terrible.
Monday, April 21, 2014
How fair is it for Latin and black players to be criticized for playing the game the wrong way? Is the right way really “the white way?” Who keeps track of the “unwritten rules?”
Just a few years ago, for the first time, more professional players were under contract (counting all baseball players at the major and minor league levels) who had been born outside the United States than were born inside the country. Most of those players are Latinos, prominently from Venezuela, the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba, among other nations. Increasingly, these players are coming from a background unlike that of the white players they’re facing in the professional leagues in the U.S. they haven’t been “schooled” in the unwritten rules of the game.
Bat flips, slow home run trots, gesticulations on the mound and on the basepaths — these are all things the Latin players are introducing to the big league game here in this country. Sometimes it seems the hubbub over these incidents are more about race than right.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
In terms of style, Vladimir Guerrero’s most closely resembled Puig’s. Reckless. Raw. But so overwhelmingly skilled. Guerrero was Puig before Puig, albeit soaked in fear instead of defiance, but he got to make his mistakes pre-Internet, and more quietly in Canada. Guerrero drank from puddles as a child. He had a fifth-grade education because his mother had to put him to work in the fields.
Guerrero’s mother lived with him as a major leaguer because he was so scared of everything new and different and awful outside, and he wanted something, anything, that felt more like home. But you have to wonder how all of that plays out differently, how we and fame would mutate Guerrero, if we had dropped him in Los Angeles and immediately demanded that he star for the city and the country and the sport beginning at 22.
Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:53 PM | 52 comment(s)
Friday, April 04, 2014
He doesn’t feel tardy…
Yasiel Puig was scratched from the starting lineup after arriving late for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ home opener on Friday.
The rest of the team was already on the field stretching before batting practice while Puig was getting dressed in the clubhouse. He had been slated to start in right field for the afternoon game against the San Francisco Giants.
Instead, Matt Kemp replaced Puig after manager Don Mattingly had earlier said Kemp wouldn’t start. Kemp came off the disabled list on Friday, and according to Mattingly, Kemp was upset when initially told that he wasn’t in the lineup…
Mattingly didn’t speak with reporters after the lineup change was posted Friday.
for his generous support.
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