Puig Conundrum

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

A tweet earlier this week stated that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was 5 minutes early for a workout. Baby steps, right? Ahhh, such is la vida loca in Puigland where every nuance, move and look is now scrutinized more than the CBS cutaways of crying kids during the NCAA Tournament.

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The latest Puig news bulletin pertains to a team meeting, one that did not involve sitting around a campfire, but rather a frank “clear the air” skull session about the young Cuban that was supposedly productive and sorely needed. In reality, it was a lot closer to an intervention than anything else.

The Aussie experience clearly showed that his act was wearing thin with his teammates and manager on not just one continent, but two. Think about if they had started the season 0 and 2? Quite frankly, they had to nip this early. He’s already grated on opponents’ nerves with his bat-flipping on routine pop-ups. His other perceived showboating antics could inevitably make him an easy target for pitchers trying to make a point. He needs the clubhouse support. The first two boxscores of the season encapsulated the maddening dichotomy that exists within Puig’s very nature: Either budding star possessing unbridled potential or volatile headcase prone to head-scratching mistakes. He was 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts in the opener, but then followed that up with a 3 for 5, 2 RBI performance. You never quite know what you’re going to get. We’ll see if the stern message delivered by his teammates is actually received or whether he’ll be nothing more than Raul Mondesi dressed in a 66 jersey. It’s all about baby steps.

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Putting Miguel Cabrera’s Contract Into Perspective

As the public hand-wringing continues over the Detroit Tigers wisdom behind Miguel Cabrera’s 10 year, $292 million dollar contract, there is a thin slice of the Western Hemisphere reveling in the richest deal in American sports history. That would be in Cabrera’s home of baseball-crazed Venezuela. A nation known for pumping out a steady stream of All-Stars and Hall of Famers too numerous to name, but include Luis Aparicio, Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Guillen.

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Cabrera’s lucrative windfall is a slight distraction to the real problems plaguing this country. Inflation is skyrocketing to near 60 percent, the murder rate is zooming to one of the highest on the planet and it’s all occurring in what many deem as a politically suppressed environment. Just over the past few weeks, there have been scores of showdowns between protesters and pro-government militias that highlight the daily upheaval for its occupants. So yes, Cabrera’s enormous contract provides a fleeting respite, especially in Maracay, where he is viewed as a conquering hero when he visits.

That’s right, he still visits, but with a police escort and bodyguards surrounding him because kidnapping is very much a possibility there, now more than ever with news of his contract. Cabrera is viewed as a symbol of hope for the youth toiling under more bleak conditions than the 2-time American League MVP ever experienced growing up. To give you an idea of how Cabrera’s financial numbers compare to say, a typical Venezulan earning minimum wage in this charged climate, the AP estimated that one would have to work 46,885 years! A staggering number that is wildly and comically out of reach, but well within the grasp of those Venezuelans willing to allow themselves a chance to indulge in a dream of being the next Miguel Cabrera.

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What to do with Robin Van Persie

Will Selva’s latest post about Hispanic Athletes.

Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie recently tossed a significant chunk of kindling into the smoldering fire that threatened to become a raging blaze when he said he wanted to actually stay at Old Trafford for two more years, even going so far as vouching for his often maligned manager David Moyes. In one of his statements that was drenched in defiant sarcasm, Van Persie told United Review: “Last time I checked my head was still attached to my body, so I’m the only one who knows exactly what I’m thinking.” He’s right you know. His head is attached to his body. Good, glad we cleared that up.

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What to do about Robin Van Persie?

He’s also correct on the latter count. RVP is the only one who knows exactly what he’s thinking because, well, the last time we thought we knew what was rattling around his cranium, he professed to be a Gunner for life. Truth is, he was in top form under Sir Alex Ferguson, helping the Red Devils to the Barclays Premier League title with world-class play. The afterglow, however, quickly dimmed and RVP was said to be unhappy with Fergie’s retirement. From there, the trap door seemed to open up under the Dutch national team captain, swallowed up by injury, disappointing results and Moyes training tactics. His simmering status finally came to a boil when he was substituted for Danny Welbeck in the victory over West Brom. The body language didn’t just speak volumes.

It was at a deafening decibel in surround sound, all the while the team appeared more balanced with Welbeck in there the rest of the match. The synergy that was hoped for with Wayne Rooney hasn’t materialized this season. It’s far from the partnership shared by say, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge that was on display in Sunday’s win. What they have resembles an Indy car with an engine that purrs. RVP and Rooney are lurching along in a lemon. The timing of Van Persie’s comments are most curious, coming at a critical juncture for the club. They can be looked at as a money grab, but Manchester United might be better served if he goes.

There are reports the Red Devils are targeting PSG star Edinson Cavani, a costly maneuver that would prove to be beneficial. Problem is, it’s highly doubtful the club will just fork over an armored truck filled with money to Moyes, the same man whom RVP gave a vote of confidence to. Moyes may not even be back as manager following the debacle versus Liverpool. As for RVP’s exit, it would certainly help ease some of the financial and perhaps emotional burden attached to him. At the very least, it saves everyone from getting another anatomy lesson.

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Bracing For Bonds

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

One of the last times Barry Bonds caused any kind of noteworthy spring training fuss was back in 2005 when he arrived fresh off knee surgery with the vortex of baseball’s steroid scandal swirling around him. Flanked by his son, a dejected Bonds told the assembled media, “You finally brought me and my family down.”

Bonds was playing the role in a Shakespearean tragedy that was moving to the third and final act, but there WAS that other time he sparked a ruckus in the desert that I almost forgot. Almost. You remember. I mean, how could you forget? He dressed as American Idol judge Paula Abdul. Some people gleefully point out that we hadn’t seen much of him or Abdul for that matter since then.

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Barry Bonds

Well, Bonds is back as a guest hitting instructor and with it will come a tsunami of suffocating round-the-clock processing. The organization is treating this experience as they would with any other former star that visits the spring training facility, whether its J.T. Snow, Will Clark or Jeff Kent. Now if it was Kent AND Bonds together, two people that like each other about as much as Obama likes Putin at the moment, then we would really have something to look forward to, but this is merely one week and one week only for both sides.

Love him or loathe him and there are plenty of people on both sides, Bonds had one of the keenest eyes ever at the plate. Seeing maybe four or five good pitches to hit a game. That requires superior hand-eye coordination and supreme discipline. How this acumen translates to fertile hitting minds remains to be seen, but he’ll have an eager audience hanging on his every word. During his playing days, Bonds typically wore a metaphorical suit of armor, clanking around in a surley mood, rarely letting others peak at what was underneath. In one way, he’s actually being transparent. Granted, it’s about his hitting secrets, but the transparency can’t just be within the confines of the batters box. The real issue is his long-term viability in the sport he lorded over for several years and if he wants to be a permanent fixture and not just a guest hitting instructor, he will need to come clean about absolutely everything.

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