Puig’s walk-off slide – Haters gonna hate

Sunday was a long day for the Dodgers – a very long day. Some of the 48,621 in attendance had left but most remained. What had started out as a blazing fast pitchers’ duel ended up becoming a near four-hour marathon. Through 10 innings not one Dodgers or Reds player had stepped on home plate. Reds pitchers had struck out a combined 20 Dodger batters – a new and dubious L.A. Dodger record. They allowed only one walk, an intentional pass to Andre Ethier in the 10th inning.

Although the Dodgers had tallied four hits through 10 innings, only two Dodgers had reached second base all day – one on a two-out double by Dodger third baseman Juan Uribe in the 8th inning and the other on a leadoff single by shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the 10th inning, which was followed by a sacrifice bunt by Skip Schumaker and the intentional walk to Ethier – all of whom were left stranded.

The Reds hadn’t fared much better. Although Dodger pitchers struck out only five Reds through 11 innings, they had allowed only three hits and two walks. One of those hits was a leadoff double in the 6th inning by Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, who was sacrificed bunted over to third by pitcher Tony Cingrani. Mesoraco was erased in a rundown after a sharp grounder and throw to the plate by Uribe on a drawn-in Dodger infield. Only one other Reds player would reach second base – Joey Votto on a leadoff double in the 7th inning, which was followed by two short fly outs, a walk and a strikeout.

…and then came the bottom of the 11th.

After a leadoff strikeout by pinch hitter Elian Herrera and a pop out to short by Mark Ellis, Dodger superstar phenom Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate. Puig was 0 for 3 on the day with a walk and three strikeouts. There would not be a fourth. Down 0-1 in the count, Puig absolutely crushed a Curtis Partch change-up that landed halfway up the Left Field Pavilion for a walk-off home run – a 424-foot blast that was the first of what will undoubtedly be many walk-off hits in his career. The Dodger Stadium crowd went wild – reminiscent of ‘Manny’s Granny’ on July 22, 2009 against (you guessed it) Dusty Baker’s Cincinnati Reds.

After three strikeouts on the day, it was only a matter of time before the law of averages caught up with Puig. (Photo credit - Jon SooHoo)

After three strikeouts on the day, it was only a matter of time before the law of averages caught up with Puig.
(Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

“My teammates told me (Partch) threw a lot of change-ups,” Puig told reporters through an interpreter in the Dodger clubhouse after the game. “I was just looking to hit anything and I got the change-up and I hit it and it goes out of there.”

That’s it – a happy ending to the story, right?

Wrong.

After his now signature bat flip and his home run trot around the bases, Puig did something that Rickey Henderson once did many years ago after a walk-off home run – he slid into home.

Why?

“Each player does what he can when he gets to the plate,” said Puig about the slide. “Some people jump, some people slide, some people run. I had a previous teammate on my Cuban team that jumped and when he landed he hurt his ankle, so I decided to slide.”

Puig said that he slid into home to avoid injury. I bet Kendrys Morales wish he had thought of that. (Photo credit - Jon SooHoo)

Puig said that he slid into home to avoid injury – something that former Angel Kendrys Morales probably wishes he had thought of. (Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

For Dodger fans who have come to know and love Yasiel Puig, the walk-off slide was no big deal. It was nothing more that Puig’s own way of celebrating his first career walk-off hit with the scrum of his teammates who, of course, shredded his jersey. That’s it. There was nothing more to it. It was not an attempt to show up Partch, the Reds, or anybody else. It was an excited 22-year-old kid sharing his excitement with his teammates – all of whom he has become very close with.

But within seconds of Puig’s celebratory slide, Twitter lit up with angry Reds fans calling it arrogant and a disgrace to the game.

How come nobody made a stink when Rickey Henderson slid into home after a walk-off home run? (Getty)

How come nobody made a stink when Rickey Henderson slid into home after a walk-off home run?
(Getty images)

And it didn’t end there. It was reported that MLB Network’s Morgan Ensberg said on the air after seeing a replay of Puig’s home run and celebratory slide “We need to talk.” Are you kidding? Morgan Ensberg? A career .263 hitter who’s only major accomplishment in his 8-year MLB career was a 2005 All-Star appearance for the Houston Astros? A guy with a total of 579 hits and 110 homers over the course of an eight-year career? A guy who retired from the game at the age of 32 because nobody wanted him? If there needs to be a talk between Morgan Ensberg and Yasiel Puig, Ensberg better let Puig do the talking.

The bottom line here is that ‘Haters gonna hate’ and players, former players and fans from opposing teams are jealous that Puig isn’t or wasn’t on their team. These are undoubtedly the same haters who also felt that Puig did not deserve to be an All-Star.

Perhaps these haters should spend a little less time hating and a little more time looking at the NL West standings and how the Dodgers accomplished their historic 26-6 run since June 22.

…but they won’t – because ‘haters gonna hate.’

 

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19 Responses to “Puig’s walk-off slide – Haters gonna hate”

  1. bigbluebird says:

    Once you get to a certain level, people are going to come out of the woodwork with their “2 cents.” Puig has a certain flair which has energized this team. Dodger fans should accept his style of play and defend it. With the Dodgers on top after this incredible run, there are going to be cheap shots at Puig but I see it as being a sign of things to come — THE DODGERS HAVE ARRIVED!!

  2. ebbetsfld says:

    Puig may be a hot dog, but he’s our hot dog! I was watching the Cincinnati feed and the Reds’ announcers were very gracious and complimentary of Puig. Not one word was said about the slide, and they both kept repeating what a great game it was and how the 20 k’s set a record for both teams.

  3. KSparkuhl says:

    Spot on, Ron. That slide was nothing more than pure celebratory magic. People are jealous? So what; let them be. They don’t want Puig to slide into home plate after a walk-off home run?… then don’t serve up the walk-off! Don’t serve up a weak-ass slider… uh, change-up… begging to be pounded into submission by a very proud and talented young man!

    I listened to the Reds replay of the home run as well, and Dick, I came away with the same feeling. The announcers sounded as if they just witnessed something great, which they did.

  4. OldBrooklynFan says:

    I agree Ron, Puig’s slide home was not an “attempt to show up Partch, the Reds or anybody else”, I believe by that time,Partch and most of the Reds were gone from the field anyway.
    It’s annoying whenever people make such a stink about team’s celebrating their victories on the field.
    I can’t understand why they think it’s to “show up” the other team.

  5. Evan Bladh says:

    I have been told by someone very familiar with the Cuban game (and a witness to Cuba Serie Nacional games), that Puig’s antics in the U.S. are tame compared to what he’s seen in that league. What it comes down to is a failure of the American public to understand the cultural differences between the two countries. What we perceive as showboating is the norm there. Puig’s bat tossing is done by everyone over there. The slide into home plate on a homer? Well a few weeks back I was told by this acquaintance that we should expect Puig to slide into home on a walk off home run one day. I haven’t spoken to him since this walk off, but I expect an “I told you” the next time I see him.

    Here’s my problem with the Puig slide: He needs to slide while running the bases.

  6. bigbluebird says:

    Totally agree with you Evan. Baseball is very much an international sport with many different styles of play. If you have ever seen baseball in the Carribean countries there is definitely a different style of playing just like there is a different style in Taiwan ot Japan. The Cuban style of play is even more exaggerated. There comes a point where different styles should be appreciated and even celebrated in an international sport.

  7. Bluenose Dodger says:

    As all TBLA posters know, I have little tolerance for the silliness of some of the unwritten rules in baseball. Grown men, professionals, millionaires, acting like junior high kids because they got their feelings supposedly hurt.

    Thus, in my book, a player can crawl home on a walk off home run if he so chooses or toss, flip his bat, whatever. He hit the ball. The pitcher missed his pitch. Tough nuggies for the pitcher and his team. My only concern for all players is to celebrate in a way so as not to get hurt.

    I expect some of the support for the slide is because a Dodger did it. That is, for Dodger fans defending the slide. For me it applies to every hitter in MLB so I have no problem with Yasiel’s celebration or a player standing and admiring his home run.

  8. 97usc says:

    Much ado about nothing….BUT….the Henderson comparison is a huge reach.
    By the time he did the slide, Rickey was already a bona fide first ballot hall of famer, won 2 world series rings and the greatest
    base stealer of all time. That’s Rickey being Rickey. Puig is on the way, but hasn’t earned henderson comparisons just yet.

    • bigbluebird says:

      I don’t think the point of this post is to compare Henderson’s career vs. that of Puig. That would be silly but simply noting that the slide on a walk off home run has been done before with a lot less fanfare.

      • 97usc says:

        Right –the reason Herdersons didn’t have as much fanfare, or backlash was BECAUSE he’ is Henderson and when he did it, it wasn’t just a walk off. It was when henderson broke the record for most runs scored.
        Given the context of the 2 the comparison is a huge reach.

        • Ron Cervenka says:

          Actually bigbluebird is correct. This was in no way a comparison between Rickey Henderson and Yasiel Puig. It was merely to show that sliding into home plate on a walk-off home run has happened before – that’s it. No comparison or reach intended whatsoever.

          I have since learned that sliding into home on a walk-off home run is not uncommon in Cuba, nor is an exaggerated bat flip. In fact, in many cases, the opposing catcher will actually show respect to a home run hitter by standing their bat on end on home plate (if its one of those flat or concave-ended bats, that is) for the player to grab as he steps on home plate and heads towards his dugout.

          There are other Cuban baseball traditions that those who are critical of ought to look into (or at least consider) before blasting these players in the national media or on national television.

  9. Cy Young says:

    lol perfect title

  10. trueblue32 says:

    Well written article Ron. I don’t believe that Puig is arrogant or show boating either. He has tremendous talent but he is frustating to watch at times. When he figures out to lay off those outside pitches the opposing teams better watch out.

    The thing that is frustating is that we have Dodger fans trying to prove a case that Puig is arrogant. It is no wonder that the Reds fan base claim he is arrogant as well. They can say what they want but like you mentioned they would love to have him on their 25 man roster.

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