|Yasiel Puig makes the catch in Washington last year. Turned head away, nonchalant snag. (photo by Greg Fiume, Getty Images)|
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The Cadillac King From Cuba
Some of you may not know this, but these days the word "Cadillac" is being used as a verb. The recent emergence of Yasiel Puig has brought that word into light on more than one occasion.
Meaning: to run in an unhurried showy way; generally, to perform or operate lackadaisically, carelessly, or without worry.
So I'll say it, and I make no reservations about it. Yasiel Puig is the cadillac king of MLB. The Coupe DeVille of Cubans, the Fleetwood of sleek footed outfielders, the Escalade of Esquivadores. NOBODY cadillacs catching a warning track fly ball like Yasiel. The only thing lacking when he makes those plays is a nonchalanted yawn, or perhaps blowing a bubble gum bubble while he flicks that glove open and makes the snag.
He has such style and panache that he is reinventing what is "cool" on the field. Dodgers fans love it. Opposing fans hate it. One thing is certain though and that is the dude is one cool cat. Baseball is entertainment and Yasiel Puig reminds us of that every time he steps in between the lines.
Puig snagged a warning track fly today that many thought was out of the park. Yasiel had that thing in his back pocket the whole time. The collective groan of Diamondback fans at Salt River Fields was one of the funniest things Ive seen at a ball park. A groan of frustration and anger, then a few outbursts and name calling. "Showboat!" screamed a fan a few rows from me. The Dodger fans in my section just laughed. "I love watching Puig play," said Sheila, a Dodger fan seated next to me who I had struck up a conversation with. "He has a style and personality when he plays."
The Cuban stars are often misunderstood. They play baseball like Brazilians play soccer, "O Jogo bonito," which is translated to mean "The beautiful game." The take the field with flair, style and spirit. They personalize the game with an exclamation point. They make the routine look so cool and that's not easy to do. It's almost natural the way a player like Puig does it.
Take a look at a player like the Giants Hunter Pence. He's a good player and talented All Star, but everything he does is awkward. His swing is rough and lanky. He throws with a form that is crooked and bumpy. There's nothing in his game that looks fluid. I hand it to him because he get things done, but it's ugly looking.
Now compare that to Puig. He runs as smooth as silk. His form when he makes throws is near perfect. Even when he swings and misses he looks pretty. We know a lot of his ability was learned through extensive training, but you can't teach fluidity. You can't show someone how to properly run the bases with breakneck speed while hardly wrinkling his uniform. Those things come naturally. Those traits are possessed by Yasiel Puig.
So as he "cadillacs" his next warning track fly and we hear the groans of opposing fans, remember that we have a gem out there. This is the type of player that surfaces only once a generation, and this time he's a Dodger. Put the Caddy in gear and enjoy the ride.