Let's cut Yasiel Puig some slack

Puig is still young, man, and he's going to do young-man things, no matter our sensibilities. According to ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown -- and there have been precious few illuminating profiles written about this sports star, the American media machine still somehow having trouble climbing over the language barrier even as our country browns like a pie crust -- Puig's favorite entertainment viewing is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." There are very mature adults, celebrities in that part of the world, who can't handle Hollywood's vices and excess, and they are not 23, and they are not new to this culture, and they aren't being asked to carry a baseball team with Magic Johnson as the owner and an $8 billion television contract, and they are not watching "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

So Puig will do his growing up before our eyes and under our admonishing finger wagging. But, in fairness, if we are interested at all in that, this needs to be remembered, and it is not a small thing: He got here June 28 of 2012. He played all of 63 minor league games. In other words, around freedom, he is not even yet a 2-year-old. Bryce Harper grew up around this country's rules without culture shock, and he came through a pipeline filled with baseball codes, and he didn't come from crushing poverty, and he, too, has many Puig traits.

We love rags-to-riches stories. Love them. But rarely, in any walk of life, does it happen as fast and as extremely as it does to the Hispanic ballplayer -- to go from soap stealing to multimillionaire in a flash. Where else does that happen in life or entertainment with positive consequences? Going from having nothing, not even freedom, to rich with literally more freedom than you'll find anywhere else in the world?

Lottery winners go broke at a disproportionate rate. The National Endowment for Financial Education cites research estimating that 70 percent of people who suddenly receive large sums will squander the money within a few years. And those people are not likely to have been quite as poor as the poverty from which Puig has emerged.

Remember Ted Williams? Not the ballplayer. The homeless guy discovered on YouTube begging for money with a golden radio voice. He was suddenly on every television and being hired to do voice work by major companies -- with a life-fixing fame -- and he had an immediate drug relapse, then had to go to an emotional clinic after he left rehab, too.

Such a complicated thing, this particular climb and this particular barrier.

There are so many things these Hispanic ballplayers don't understand while making the transition.

Almost as many as we don't understand while watching them try to do it.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...