Debate Continues Over Whether Dodgers Rookie Yasiel Puig Should Be An All-Star
Dodgers rookie RF Yasiel Puig was among five players placed on the NL ballot for the final spot on the All-Star Game roster, after receiving "842,915 write-in votes" during regular balloting, the most since 2B Freddy Sanchez got 856,685 while with the Pirates in '06, according to Mike Hiserman of the L.A. TIMES. Voting for the final spot "will take place in the next five days" (LATIMES.com, 7/6). In N.Y., Andy Martino wrote the Puig decision "does provide a glimpse into a basic tension that underlies the sport every day -- entertainment value versus clubhouse traditionalism." Does the game "take itself so seriously, and consider the All-Star game so sacrosanct, that it cannot accommodate a show that would thrill the public, and maybe even generate organic interest in this sleepy event?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/7). In Denver, Troy Renck wrote Puig's inclusion this year would "not diminish the experience." Renck: "Enhance it, is more like it." MLB should be "looking at every creative avenue to attract younger viewers." Puig's presence "does that." He is "the 'it' guy right now" (DENVER POST, 7/7). The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, "I am shocked there is any discussion at all about Yasiel Puig's presence on the National League team. He has become the most electrifying player in the game. Put him in!" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN2, 7/7). ESPN L.A.'s Mark Saxon wrote, "Even if Puig somehow doesn't win the Final Vote, in the next week or so you'll be seeing a steady stream of players backing out over nagging aches and pains" (ESPNLA.com, 7/6). But in Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote Puig does "not belong in the All-Star Game." He "hasn't earned it." The "sample size simply isn't big enough." However, he is a "tremendous player to watch" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/7).
TAKING ISSUE WITH PUIGMANIA: Braves 1B Freddie Freeman is among the five candidates for the NL final vote, but in Atlanta, David O'Brien notes some Braves players "took exception to ESPN.com openly campaigning for Puig." Braves 2B Dan Uggla said of Puig, "Nobody has a chance. He's been getting covered since he broke in. And he should be getting covered; he's an exciting story. But should he make the All-Star team? No, not this year. But he's going to make it. Which sucks for Freddie and other (Final Vote) guys, because they've been doing it the whole year." Braves P Tim Hudson said, "It's B.S. I mean, it's pretty obvious what players certain media outlets want to have plugged in." He added that it was "another inherent flaw in the current All-Star selection process" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/8). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes of Puig, "You can be sure Fox TV executives are rooting for the kid, refreshing their browsers until their fingers are raw" (USA TODAY, 7/8).
ESPN SCOOPS FOX: ESPN's Pedro Gomez on Saturday reported Puig was among the five candidates for the final spot on the NL All-Star roster prior to Fox’ broadcast announcing the teams. Gomez around 6:20pm ET cited “really well-placed sources” in MLB that said Puig was not on the final roster. Gomez: “It’s going to be left up to the fans. And with Puigmania kind of sweeping the country, a lot of people in the Dodger clubhouse believe that he’s got a pretty good chance of being selected.” Fox’ telecast began at 6:30pm (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 7/6). MLB in ’07 reduced ESPN’s access to the All-Star Game at AT&T Park after the network released the game’s rosters prior to the official announcement on TBS (THE DAILY).
AMERICAN SLANG: SPORTS ON EARTH's Emma Span wrote the five players contending for the final spot on the AL roster are all relief pitchers, names "few casual fans have heard of, and even fewer are tuning in to watch." The AL vote is a spot "where you could have let" Rays 3B Evan Longoria, Indians C Carlos Santana, A's 3B Josh Donaldson and SS Jed Lowrie "battle it out." Instead, "you can bet that many thousands of fans will head over to vote for Puig in the NL, scratch their heads in bewilderment at these [AL] choices and pick someone largely at random" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 7/7). ESPN’s Jayson Stark suggested a “rising star spot on each All-Star team for some young breakout star that everybody wants to see.” Stark added, “Let’s ask America which five young players they would like to see and put them on a ballot. Let them choose” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 7/7).
MYSTERY MAN: USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz notes Puig, after he was named one of the five NL final vote candidates, "declined to talk to news reporters." It continued a "pattern of shunning media requests and refusing to talk to reporters before games." But after a meeting with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, Puig "committed to making himself available after games." Puig yesterday "fielded questions -- though not until after a heated exchange with" Dodgers 3B Juan Uribe, who "prodded him to cooperate." Colletti thinks that the "highly marketable rookie -- whom the team promoted in a ticket package for $66 -- will learn to handle his media duties and present his better side to the public." His No. 66 jersey "was the No. 1 seller the past week" (USA TODAY, 7/8). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez notes Puig's "refusal to grant interviews the first two days" of the series with the Giants "drew the ire of national reporters who traveled to San Francisco to chronicle his exploits." It was "becoming increasingly clear the Dodgers had little or no control over the temperamental outfielder" (L.A. TIMES, 7/8).