Get to know Yasiel Puig, the man at the heart of one of baseball's best photos
On Sunday, Reds right fielder Yasiel Puig found himself at the literal center of the baseball world when a photo artistically captured him right in the middle of the fracas that occurred between the Reds and Pirates.
Hang this in the Louvre. pic.twitter.com/2ArAXSEOqf— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 7, 2019
The image above beautifully captures the tension of two teams clearing their benches and meeting in the middle of the field. But, even more important, it captures the passion of the man at its very center, the one with a teammate around his leg in a desperate attempt at restraining him amidst a horde of Pirates: Yasiel Puig.
But just who is he, and why did he find himself the star of a Renaissance painting? Really, it should come as no surprise: Even before Sunday, Puig has long been among the most passionate players in the game. If you don't believe us, allow this moment to serve as an opportunity to appreciate some of the wildest things he's done in the past.
He isn't afraid to show his affection toward his team
For three years, Turner Ward was Puig's hitting coach with the Dodgers. This offseason, he joined the Reds coaching staff and, not long after, the Reds traded for Puig to reunite the coach and his pupil.
That's good news because, as you can see, Puig and Ward are quite close -- and a happy Puig is a fun Puig.
He shows his emotion, even if it's not clear he knows where it's going
By this point, it should be clear that Puig lives in the moment and wears his heart on his sleeve. Often, that manifests in fun celebrations that hold some internal consistency or fit a narrative arc. Other times, the emotion comes out with a bit less form -- like, for example, when he licks his bat from time to time:
And when he does something special on the field, the tongue makes another appearance. Behold Puig's signature celebration: The tongue wag.
He's confident and not afraid to make bold predictions
After the Dodgers clinched the NL West last season by beating the Rockies in Game 163, Puig's sights were set on the postseason. But, they weren't set on his NLDS opponent or even his NLCS opponent. He felt his team was ready to win the World Series and wanted to share the excitement of his bold prediction with everyone around him.
He also shows his frustration
They say baseball is a game of failure, but that doesn't mean Puig is comfortable with that aspect of the game. When he's frustrated, he's not going to endure it stoically -- he's going to let it out and move on.
He dances like no one's watching, even when everyone is
Whoever said you need an occasion to dance and celebrate was clearly not a happy person. Puig is a happy person, so he dances whenever he wants, even if he's just standing in the batter's box.
What do you get when you add that sort of passion to the sort of loyalty that leads to kissing your hitting coach? You get a man, standing athwart his entire team, literally dragging a player on the ground in an effort to defend his teammate's honor.
Sure, Puig wasn't the one who pimped the initial home run, and he wasn't the player who Chris Archer threw behind, but that doesn't matter: If Sunday was your first exposure to the joy of watching him play and exist on the baseball field, welcome to a fun and exciting ride with the Wild Horse.
Eric Chesterton is a writer for MLB.com. He is an appreciator of the stolen base, the bunt against the shift and nearly every unconventional uniform design. He eagerly awaits Jamie Moyer's inevitable comeback.