Dodgers' Yasiel Puig launches himself tongue-first into October baseball
October 7 at 10:43 AM
Yasiel Puig wags (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES â" Yasiel Puig came barreling, headlong and tongue-first, into third base late Friday night, and it was there, in a cloud of dust maybe 40 feet from the Los Angeles Dodgersâ dugout, that a normal human â" which is to say, one who did not wish for the fleshy, muscular organ in his mouth to become its own story on the night the Dodgers won their first game of the 2017 postseason â" would have put the tongue back from whence it came.
But this being Puig, and these being the Dodgers, and the moment being what it was, Puig plunged his tongue deeper into the collective consciousness of his 24 teammates and a Dodger St adium crowd of 54,707. The Dodgersâ right fielder looked into his own dugout with wild eyes and began wagging the tongue in his teammatesâ direction.
And they, in turn, appeared amused in a way that suggested Puigâs tongue was something they have come to expect to make an appearance at any moment, even that one â" in the seventh inning of the Dodgersâ 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
âI was thinking, âThatâs about right,â â Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said of his reaction to Puigâs GIF-worthy tongue-wag.
[It wasnât Clayton Kershawâs best night, but the Dodgers looked like their old selves]
Puig went 2 for 5 in the Dodgersâ win, with a double, a triple and two RBI. But in terms of national exposure and postgame interest from the assembled media, he didnât have half the night his tongue did.
âI hit an easy groundball,â Puig said, âand that was normal ly, for everybody, a double.â But as he rounded second, he realized he could make it to third, so he motored on, tongue-first. When he made it, safe, and for reasons he still doesnât completely understand, his tongue was not ready to go back to its dark home.
âWhen I slide, thatâs my reaction. I go like that,â he said, giving another display of the tongue-wagging, just in case anybody missed it the first time. âBecause my teammates â" I see my teammates so excited on the bench and, I donât know why. Maybe [there was] ice cream in front of me or something like that.â
The tongue-wag at third base was not the only curious appearance of Puigâs tongue on this night. In the first inning, just before hitting his double, he stuck it out to lick his bat, only to recoil when he realized the taste of a bat slathered with pine tar is actually quite disgusting.
Luckily, he recovered in time to make a great swing on the double. As the ball left his bat, Pui g posed at home plate for a moment and flipped his bat away, even though the low line drive had no chance of leaving the yard.
Such escapades are part of the life the Dodgers have chosen to make with Puig, the talented but mercurial Cuban outfielder whom the team has sent to the minors and benched in the past out of frustration with his lapses in judgment and focus â" but who can also have nights like Friday when, batting in the fifth spot of the Dodgersâ loaded lineup, he slashed the ball all over Dodger Stadium and at times looked like the best athlete on the field.
âHeâs called âthe Wild Horseâ for a reason,â said Manager Dave Roberts, who benched Puig twice in September, but now was smiling at his antics. âHeâs just â" heâs a wild horse. So sometimes you shake your head. Sometimes you smile. But heâs a heck of a talent, and he helped us win a baseball game tonight.â
When Puig emerged from the Dodgersâ clubhouse for a postgame news c onference, he was alongside teammate Justin Turner, who homered and drove in five runs in the win. There were three seats at the table, and Puig took the one on his right. Turner considered the one in the center, closest to Puig, then opted for the one on the left.
When Puig looked offended, Turner looked at him and said: âYou might lick me.â
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