In what can only be described as a roller coaster of a season filled with more highs and lows than the world’s tallest ride at a Six Flags amusement park, the Los Angeles Dodgers continue to hold on for dear life as their rookie phenom Yasiel Puig guides them on this wild and wacky ride towards the end of the 2013 season.
But as this coaster rolls on through the month of September, with an eventual stop in October, the operator of this ride, manager Don Mattingly, will have to decide when and how to apply the brakes on Puig.
Ever since his call up to the City of Angels, Puig has been everything he was supposed to be. Clutch hits: No problem! Gargantuan home runs: No problem! Throw out the runner heading to home plate with a Howitzer for an arm: No problem!
And while it could be argued that Hanley Ramirez is more responsible for the mid-season turnaround of the Dodgers, it's Puig who has served as the catalyst of this teams meteoric rise from the doldrums of the NL West to the upper echelon - the team now sits in first place.
Yes, it has been a fun ride indeed. Unfortunately, Mattingly and the Dodgers have also discovered just how bumpy it can be.
From errant throws, mental mistakes on the base paths and showing up umpires every time they say, “Strike Three”, Puig is displaying a measure of immaturity that would make the Bad News Bears choke on their chewing gum. In other words: he’s acting like a rookie with too much to prove.
There is no doubt that Puig will continue to factor in to the Dodgers success as they march towards the postseason for the first time since 2009. The only thing the Dodgers don’t know is whether they’ll be drenching him in champagne as he hoists the World Series trophy, or if they’ll hang their heads in despair because he overthrew his cutoff man.
Mattingly has already pulled Puig from the lineup for what was described as, “disciplinary reasons”, which has fueled speculation that the Dodgers’ brass (and the rest of the team) have grown tired of his tantrums and histrionics (The fact that Mattingly and GM Ned Colleti had a 30 minute talk behind closed doors with Puig illustrates how serious they are about his development).
But for now, forget about the tirades, daydreams and mercurial behavior.
When the chips are down, Puig will have to come through when the Dodgers need him most.
The only way this roller coaster ends up being any fun is if Puig checks his ego at the door and lets his talent do the talking. If he does, then this is a thrill ride that will excite the Dodgers and their fans for a very long time.
*feature image courtesy of USA TodayBack to the Los Angeles Dodgers Newsfeed