Forbidden Love is a Cubs DNA series where our staff waxes poetic about a player on a team other than the Cubs. Maybe even one you think they should hate. In this installment, Brooke introduces you to free agent Outfielder/Bat Licker Yasiel Puig.
I briefly lived in North Hollywood for a couple years and attended a few Dodger games (including an NLCS Cubs game!) and actually, Dodger fans aren't nearly as terrible as I imagined them. I mean, the Dodgers are kind of our biggest rivals outside the Midwest, so I kind of imagined the worst. But they aren't nearly as animated as even the most typical of midseason games at Wrigley Field. Unless one guy in particular is at the plate...then the crowd really comes alive and it's contagious.
So I'm here to confess my Forbidden Love: Yasiel Puig. I don't care how polarizing he is, I. LOVE. HIM. SO. MUCH!!!
Let's start just by looking at his Twitter page: Background pic remembering good friend Jose Fernandez, a tongue wagging profile pic wearing an Indians cap, a link to his charity the Wild Horse Foundation and a blessing for his fans. How can you not think this guy is an MLB treasure?
Oh, wait apparently some don't BECAUSE SOMEHOW HE'S STILL A FREE AGENT!!???!!!!
Puig debuted June 3rd, 2013 and won the National Player of the Week after hitting 4 homers and had 10 RBI in his first 5 games. His hot streak continued and he ended up winning the Player of the Month for June. He would finish 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting behind Jose Fernandez. And while the battle of two Cuban rookies could have led to animosity, it actually led to a great friendship.
While his rookie year was an exciting debut, his production faded a bit the next few years. In 2016 after the Dodgers failed to trade him, he was demoted.
Puig, of course, did not take this demotion quietly, and there are probably two things that you might remember about the whole situation. Let's tackle the not so great one first..... He quickly bonded with his new teammates by drinking beer and hunting Pokemon and posted those moments with some NSFW language on Snapchat. Now, these videos weren't his best moment from a professional athlete, but it does help illustrate the type of gusto that Puig brings to every team he joins.
The other moment you might remember is the Twitter dust-up between Ken Rosenthal and Puig when Rosenthal incorrectly reported that Puig had stormed out of the stadium. Rosenthal got fact checked and he immediately posted a retraction on Twitter. Puig's response?
I love the #puigyourfriend hashtag especially when he uses it against his rivals! Anyone else remember the benches clearing situation between Puig and former Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner? Apparently, amidst the fracas, Bumgarner had told Puig DON'T LOOK AT ME!!!
Puig can always be counted on to clapback with a laugh!!
Now, remember how I said that Dodgers fans really got excited about Puig when he's at bat? Well, it's an energy matched only by the likes of Javy Baez at Wrigley Field. So, what happens when you get these two together?
Puig tries to leg out a double during the NLCS against the Cubs and Javy tags him out. Javy gives Puig the Motumbo finger-wag and Puig can't help but laugh in return. It was two really fun baseball guys meeting and they didn't disappoint. (Anyone else just watching this gif on repeat or is that just me?)
In the 2019 offseason Puig was traded to the Reds. He immediately embraced his new team and organization. This included organizing events with aptly named Wild Horse charity.
Puig's time in Cincinnati was short and is probably best remembered by an epic brawl between the Pirates and the Reds that Twitter personality Jomboy broke it down in 4 different parts!
Of course this brawl was most notable because at the time, technically Puig was no longer a Red! He'd been traded to the Indians and the Reds manager had neglected to pull him. But, I guess Puig just had some unfinished business with those Pirates, since this was actually the SECOND Pirates brawl he'd gotten into that season. The first one was immortalized by both Twitter memes and T-shirt sales.
Clearly, he will be missed in Cincy! He also continues to have close ties to Los Angeles (where he owns a home) and is currently continuing charity work there, while the country is in the middle of staying at home during a pandemic.
It's clear that Puig's heart is big and this is why I love him so, even if the love is a bit forbidden. So, which team will take the chance to sign this charismatic outfielder once baseball has resumed? He's ready!