Question: Which NL All-Star starter is hitting .256 with just one home run and only 11 RBIs since June 1, seeing his average fall 40 points during that time? He’s also no longer in the MLB Top 10 in any offensive category.
The answer is Yasiel Puig, and his level of hype has reached ridiculous proportions.
The young man is also featured in every All-Star Game promo, alongside or even in lieu of proven, consistent superstars like Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout, Troy Tulowitzki and dozens whose statistics and resumes dwarf his.
Consider McCutchen, who, like a true MVP, was hitting game-tying and then game-winning bombs at Cincinnati in a huge tilt Saturday night – while the Dodger right fielder was ejected in the third inning after striking out.
I spoke at length with “Cutch” in May 2009 at an RBI Indianapolis event just before his promotion to Pittsburgh. He was a full year younger than Puig currently is, yet eons more mature and humble, perhaps since the media hadn’t placed him on an undeserved pedestal. The 2013 NL NVP may be confused as to why he’s sharing the outfield Tuesday night with a celebrated guy who hasn’t recorded any game-winning (or memorable) hits in 2014 and was a disaster during the most important Dodgers game the past quarter-century last October.
And I’m not even taking into account the myriad mental gaffes and haughtiness the 23-year-old frequently displays to the detriment of his team and the sport.
But if the past 13 months are a clue, the mainstream sports media won’t note any this. They, like All-Star game voters apparently, rely on emotion, hype and conjecture.
Watching ESPN has long been infuriating if looking for honesty or astute analysis, but when it comes to the Los Angeles right fielder, the bias unfortunately infests MLB network, Fox Sports and elsewhere too.
Ever heard of Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley? He has better numbers than the Cuban “sensation” in every area, yet barely made the All-Star Game as a reserve and is rarely mentioned by national media types.
Don’t look for any of what I wrote below to be mentioned the next 48 hours in Minneapolis. In fact, you’ll get the opposite. It sometimes seems like criticism or even critique of No. 66 is forbidden.
I simply wish sports fans wouldn’t always believe what they’re told and instead seek out other sources, where available.