Unless you’ve spent significant time in St. Louis and, more specifically, at Washington University in the St. Louis suburbs, you’ve probably never heard of Mike Talanya’s Juke Box Restaurant. That’s a shame because Mike Talanya’s (T’s, as the locals call it) is a delightful dive filled with disco balls, red and blue Christmas lights creating a constant purple hue, and wall-to-wall-to-ceiling mirrors. Oh, and there’s also a karaoke platform most frequently attended by a handful locals, Wash. U. seniors, and Wash. U. med students.

I don’t expect any of you to have heard of T’s but I know for a fact one of the newest Cincinnati Reds has. My freshman year, after a Wednesday Dodgers-Cardinals game with an off-day Thursday, Yasiel Puig posted on Twitter looking for something to do. Wednesday nights are T’s nights for the Wash. U. undergraduate community, so some senior replied, inviting Yasiel along.

To everyone’s surprise, he came, and he brought teammate Hanley Ramirez for good measure.

For about half an hour, Yasiel and Hanley stood by the wall, nursing a drink, chatting with intrepid students, and taking selfies with anyone who asked. At some point, they must have realized that maybe a night of college students and karoake wasn’t exactly their vibe and disappeared to country bars downtown or the trendy bars in the Grove or maybe just back to the hotel to sleep. But that doesn’t matter. They still came.

There are two ways to react to this story:

1) That darn Yasiel Puig shouldn’t be partying during the season! Back in my day, ballplayers stared at the wall after a game until they could wake up and practice again. This is the wrong way to react to this story.

2) Man, Yasiel Puig actually acts like a real human being and interacts with his fans in a way that isn’t aloof or selfish. He graciously allows for selfies and responds to Twitter messages and explores the cities he visits which seems like an incredible privilege afforded to professional athletes that so many seem to throw away. This is the correct way to react to this story.

For the entirety of Puig’s career, there have been grumbles and grumps that he’s too flamboyant, he doesn’t take it seriously, he’s a cancer to the team because he’s just too darn happy. Bill Plaschke was the foremost tsk-tsker of Puig in LA, but I’ve already seen Reds fans of a similar ilk complaining about the outfielder. Not all Reds fans mind you, but enough.

The idea behind the grumbles stems from a notion of respect, I’ve gathered. Baseball must be respected because it’s a game and he needs to “play the right way” because think of the children and I don’t know really, it’s a pretty thin argument.

Outside of this amorphous concept of respect that I’m not sure anyone really understands, Puig does one thing better than any baseball player I’ve come across: Act like an actual human being.

People have emotions! People get excited! People play pranks and horse around sometimes because life is long and life is sad and sometimes when you’re playing a game, even if you’re getting paid to do it, you want to have fun and forget for a moment that some day you’re going to die and there will be no more games to play. Too grim? Too bad, it’s true.

The best baseball players to follow are the ones who horse around sometimes. Joey Votto and his antics are an excellent example. As are Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett. As were Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. If you want to lambast Puig for having fun in the dugout or in the field, I have to assume you’ve never joked with a co-worker or played a prank at work to pass the time.

Further, if Puig wants to go to a bar the night before he has no work the next day (ahem, I think us non-baseball players call this a weekend), that seems like a perfectly normal thing to do! It also makes me, a baseball fan, like him even more. Now, I can relate to Puig and his non-work habits!

I guess my point can be boiled down to this: Watching the Reds for the past five years has been a miserable experience. An horrid, uncomfortable, depressing slog. In fact over the last five years, the Reds have the worst winning percentage of any major league team!

It’s been tough. We need some fun. We need some wins. Conveniently, in addition to being fun, Puig has also played in multiple World Series, including the last one where he did this:

Yasiel Puig is my friend, why won’t you let him be yours too?

About The Author

Wesley - or Wes, whichever really - first fell in love with the Reds because of Ken Griffey Jr.'s smooth swing and shining smile. Ever since that first infatuation, it has been tortured fandom broken up by a blown 2-0 lead to the Giants and a Roy Halladay no-hitter - but that's neither here nor there. The only things Wes loves as much as the Reds are pancakes, flannels, and Vanderbilt baseball. You can find more of his writing at wesjenks.com or his carefully curated retweets @_wesjenks.

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57 Responses

  1. JG

    Maybe you should ask to “write” for this website, or better yet, maybe just don’t read the articles if they aren’t up to your standards.

    I expect better comments from the commenters.

    Reply
  2. Mark Moore

    I’m ready to see how Puig plays out in Cincy. He’s in a contract year, so you have to believe he’ll put in significant effort, even if that means quite a bit of time in CF.

    How many days until Spring Training camp opens?

    Reply
    • Luis Cortez

      Reds fans will love him.The best rightfielder in baseball period.His best years are in front of him,expect him to hit 35 or more hrs bat 300 and drive in 100 plus runs batted in with 25 or more stolen bases and save a lot of runs by keeping hitters at 1st on normal doubles something that haters never mention.Dodgers will be sorry they let him go.

      Reply
      • ToBeDetermined

        Luis,
        If I can expect that performance. Then He just might be the NL MVP this year with those numbers.
        Even without that stellar of a year I think we’ll be real happy if he stays healthy.

      • Luis Cortez

        Only reason puig didn’t explode this past season was because our dumb manager platooned him but playing everyday he will get used to hitting lefthanders and reds hitting coach will take care of that.

      • Luis Cortez

        Also Matt Kemp can still hit 27 plus hrs with 100 or more rbis but our dumb manager platooned him too,He’s the reason we went to the world series this past season cause he carried the team while Turner missed first 40 games.If reds manager plays him he will produce 100 or more rbs.and defensively He’s not worse than Bryce Harper who is way overrated

  3. TR

    I look forward to the coming season with Yasiel Puig in the outfield. The Reds offense should be one of the better ones in the NL. If the pitching comes together, it could be a surprising year.

    Reply
  4. wkuchad

    I could care less about Puig’s antics in the past, based on what I’ve read. I do hope he has respect for and the respect of his teammates and coaches. We can put up with a little flash and antics. We’ve done it before with players like BP. But he needs to produce.

    That’s the first F bomb I’ve seen on this site. Hopefully unintentional.

    Reply
    • Wesley Jenkins

      Totally unintentional, thanks for the catch! Looking for a replacement tweet now.

      Reply
    • Frostgiant80

      I agree. Reds fans, for the most part, embraced BP. I expect the same with Puig as long as he performs.

      Reply
  5. greenmtred

    Shame on you for being provocative, Wesley. Brandon Phillips was criticized by some for reasons similar to those for which Puig is. Being a strong, silent type is one way to be a human, but not the only way. Thanks for a thoughtful piece.

    Reply
  6. matt g

    Did this site go away from family friendly when Doug took over? Pretty vulgar language in the embedded video (maybe that’s the name of person who posted the video???).

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      It was unintentional, and that’s kind of one of the issues with embedding tweets, too – people can edit and change their displayed user name. I’m not sure if both myself and Wesley overlooked it somehow, or if the user changed their name since we wrote/edited the article. We are taking care of it.

      Reply
    • Wesley Jenkins

      Didn’t catch the person’s name when I found the tweet, but fixed it now 🙂

      Reply
      • ToBeDetermined

        Doug, thanks for keeping it Family Friendly.
        Much Appreciated !!
        If I want vulgar, I can go to 9 out 10 other places.

      • KDK

        I miss Chad. Anyway, great article as usual, Wesley! I always look forward to them. I shall embrace Puig as well.

  7. scotly50

    I like the personalities, but I see Baseball as entertainment. I leave the “business” of Baseball to those who get paid to do so.

    Reply
  8. Hotto4Votto

    I’m glad he’s a Red. Baseball needs more fun and not taking itself too seriously.

    Reply
  9. Ghettotrout1

    I love Puig and wish we had more non sense in the game it would make it way less crusty. Its like the NFL I love the fact that they allow celebrations now its way more fun to watch. And I love to clown around at work and act like a fool I think if more people didn’t take themselves so seriously the world would be a better place.

    But I will say telling someone how to interpret him going out as being right and wrong is kinda whack. Let people make up their own minds even if they are crusty and old and don’t like players interacting with fans and having fun.

    Reply
  10. David

    I think Puig is a tremendous talent, but when he FIRST came to the majors he was a little green, made some mistakes (missing the cut off man on throws, throwing to the wrong base, etc), and was a little impulsive in what he said.
    He got a lot of stupid criticism from “fans” and especially sportswriters in LA, etc.

    He’s grown up some since then, doesn’t do some of the “green” rookie mistakes he used to make.
    I think that on the Reds, with Eugenio, Raisel (a fellow Cuban), Peraza and other Latin ball players, Puig will be fine. I also think that sometimes the fans don’t realize how hard it is for a very young Latin ballplayer (from the Spanish speaking Caribbean islands, Mexico, Venezuela, etc) to adjust to life in the US, where they aren’t familiar with customs, and don’t speak English very well or at all. It is easy for “sportswriters” and the fans to misunderstand him.
    The Reds are lucky to have a stand up guy like Eugenio, who has tried very hard to learn English, works very hard to get better, and doesn’t complain when things don’t go quite right. Stands up for what he does right and wrong.
    I think Puig will be happy here, for however long he plays in Cincinnati.

    Reply
    • TR

      David: I like your comment. Adjusting to and playing in a different culture and language is not always easy. I think Caribbean Latin players have usually liked playing in Cincinnati, since it is not one of the ‘big big’ ML cities, and I think that that feeling extends back to a fan favorite, Tony Perez.

      Reply
    • ToBeDetermined

      David,
      You make a great point about the Caribbean, Central and South American Players and the culture.
      They tend to be “more flashy, more bling” than we are in the United States. I’m not saying that either is necessarily better than the other. I’m just saying that as a generalization. And as such it can be a shock to us when we look at a persons actions from another culture through the lens of our own culture that we have gotten used to.

      Reply
      • Doug Gray

        They aren’t more flashy, more bling, though. Only in baseball is that the case. Because baseball tries to punish you for having fun or showing emotion. For reasons that can be traced back to the 1940’s and 1950’s.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Doug
        Have you been to Caribbean, Central and South America. ?
        It’s more hoppin than it is in the United States.
        And United States is more hoppin than it is in England.

        Again I’m just saying the culture is that way. And when we grow up in a culture we tend to reflect that culture.

      • Doug Gray

        The NBA and the NFL are full of fun and emotion. In MLB if you those same kinds of things you are “a punk” and they will literally throw baseballs at you to teach you to not act that way.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Doug,
        OK, I’ll let you have the last word.
        This time. 🙂

  11. matthew hendley

    This is the First season in a while where I am pumped up to even see what the lineup is. let alone the game itself. Puig is a big part of that.

    Reply
  12. Rut

    Wash U huh? Hope you got a scholly! Also hope you give those self righteous “best fans in baseball” as much crap as I did!

    Sincerely,

    2001 Wustl Law Scool Grad

    Reply
    • Wesley Jenkins

      Oh you better believe I wore my Brandon Phillips jersey to every Cards game I went to (and ofc, ain’t nobody paying full price with that kind of sticker value)

      Reply
      • Rut

        Hahaha, my wife sure did (still paying those student loans!)

        I was there to see the Rams win the Super Bowl and Big Mac hit 70 hrs. So good time to be in a crappy place!

        Hope your time there was enjoyable, I doubt I will ever go back… but glad to hear you properly represented our Reds!

  13. WVRedlegs

    I guess we will really find out if there is a trade market for 2B right now and if Scooter could be traded or not. The Giants are looking to trade their 2B, Joe Panik, who has 2 years of team control left. His situation is different than Scooter’s in that he has the 2 years instead of 1 left. Panik is also a different type of hitter than Scooter, better contact hitter, but much less power. Their BA’s and OBP’s have been close but Scooter probably gets the edge there too. So, we’ll see how easily the Giants can trade Panik and get back value in return.
    The Giants are interested in trading Panik because they have interest in opening a spot for free agent 2B DJ LeMahieu. The Reds would be trading Gennett to open a spot for #1 prospect Nick Senzel. So, the situations do have some similarities too.

    Reply
    • WVRedlegs

      I almost forgot the last comparison. Panik is 28 years old. Scooter is 28 years old, too, but is almost exactly 6 months older.

      Reply
      • Matthew Hendleyh

        The Comparisons end with the teams. The Giants have placed themselves close to the Luxury tax limit with there pickups of various players. This places them in a crunch if they were to actually pick up DJL as they would need to get rid of expensive players to fit DJL salary in while staying under the cap. Thus any trade with Panik will require a dump off… which will not bring quality prospects back. The reds do not have the same issue with their payroll, which increases the quality of prospects that would be expected back.

        Food For thought.

      • Tampa Red

        I think the answer is obvious: the Reds don’t REALLY want to trade him. I mean, no one should be untouchable, but the Reds don’t have to trade Scooter for anything less than what they consider full value. Nor should they.

        The Cubs only had two players get more than 500 AB’s last season, Rizzo and Baez. There is nothing wrong with having a strong starting 8 AND and a strong bench every game, all 162 of them. I sincerely hope that is how the new management views roster construction, and I suspect that they do.

    • Chris Miller

      With all due respect, Panik and Scooter are nothing alike. The only thing they have in common is that they both play 2nd base. Scooter is coming off an All Star year, while Panik is coming off a miserable year. In other words, the trade market for Panik has NO relation to what the trade market for Scooter would be.

      Reply
      • WVRedlegs

        Well, I did say they were different types of hitters. I do agre with you, I do not think Panik is a better 2B. He is better defensively, but not offensively. Panik’s down year in 2018 may be due to injury. Other than 2019 salary, Scooter at $10MM and Panik at $4MM, they do have some similarities in their situations.
        The point though would be with Scooter the obvious better 2B, if the Giants can quickly find a market for Panik and then trade him, why does it appear as though the Reds are struggling in finding a trade partner for Scooter? You would think a team desiring a 2B would prefer Scooter over Panik. However, teams looking for 2B have other considerations to think about than just stats alone. Salary, age, aging projections, contract control, prospect cost to obtain, QO draft compensation to sign as a free agent, and a player coming off a down year/injury/looking for rebound year are just some of the things.
        Scooter salary for 2019 ~$10MM. Panik salary for 2019-2020 ~$11MM.
        Dozier signs for 1 year and $9MM. It will be interesting to see if LeMahieu, Jed Lowrie, and Josh Harrison get more than 1 year deals and what they go for. LeMahieu has draft pick compensation tied to him, Lowrie and Harrison do not.
        In my opinion, Scooter checks more of the boxes than the other 2B do, the free agents and the ones rumored to possibly be traded. Thus my being perplexed why there is a market for other 2B, but supposedly not for Scooter. Scooter isn’t coming off a down year like most of these are, in fact he is coming off 2 straight good seasons.
        If the Giants are able to quickly trade Panik, then some questions should be asked. Is the Reds asking price too high on Scooter? Why does it seem that teams in need of a 2B are not pursuing Scooter more, but are pursuing lesser options? Are the Reds not being aggressive enough?

  14. Scott C

    Respect! Yeah we want respect. And we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you darn kids.”
    Seriously, though good article, Wesley. I am hoping that this year will have a lot of fun moments and more W’s than L’s. Puig can kiss as many bats, slide into bases and bark like a dog and jump for joy when he hits a home run all he wants. I just hope he gets a lot of opportunities to celebrate.

    Reply
  15. Vada

    Why is there so much discussion and concern over Scooter declining in performance. If we consider salary with declining skills Scooter would outdo Votto anytime. No way is Votto performing up to the standards of $25M a year. Age is a factor, yes, what matters too is under performing value for the salary. In a clutch situation I would take Scooter any day. For one thing he HUSTLES, unlike Votto who is (I better not say). I wish the commissioner would change the rules and eliminate the required number of players want to team and instead instill a maximum team income value. Playing the game this way I would rather have 40 Scooters and ZERO Votto’s on my team. Pete Rose exhibited the value of hustling like no other player I’ve known. Send Votto to AL as a designated hitter.

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      Well, not that WAR is perfect or anything, but it’s certainly not terribly bad at evaluating the performance of position players, either. Joey Votto has absolutely, 100% earned every penny of his salary, and then some. Even last year, in a “down year” for Votto, he was worth $28.2M. Gennett was worth more (last year).

      Reply
      • ToBeDetermined

        $25 million is a lot of money.
        But, Relatively Comparing Votto’s performance and Salary to the rest of the league, he most definitely earned his money.

        We also have to look at it from the positive influence Votto has had on other players on team. That just adds even more value for the dollars spent.

    • Scott C

      Yeah what Doug said. Votto has been worth every penny of his contract. I have no problem with Scooter and believe he has been worth more than the Reds have invested in him, but he is still not Votto and just as we watched Phillips fall of the cliff of performance Scooter the chances are high that Scooter will as well. Middle infielders, typically (and there are exceptions and perhaps Scooter will be one) do not age well.

      Reply
      • ToBeDetermined

        Scott

        I wonder why that is that middle infielders don’t particularly age well?

        As an analogy — Even though they both are produced by grapes, I know why a bottle of wine should be drunk within a short period after being opened, where as a bottle of cognac can be excellent years after being opened.

      • Scott C

        I know very little about wine, but my opinion about middle infielders (having played 2’cnd base through high school and later in life SS in softball leagues) is the pressure the turns put on the knees and the throws are not always made with a natural motion.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Scott,

        thanks, that makes some sense. So that gets me thinking. The SS and 2nd basemen tend to be smaller more athletic guys as compared to corner OFs, 3rd and 1st basemen. So maybe their bodies with all these strenuous activities break them down sooner. And in order to play SS/2nd you need to keep that athleticism.

        But, then they lose that athleticism they need to move to 3rd or 1st and those guys are typically larger and can hit better. And of course at 1st base are typically guys who are more lanky and larger to be able to get to more bad throws. I don’t know to many SS/2nd basemen that that body type describes.

        Just thinking out loud here.

  16. Daytonian

    Thanks for the interesting anecdote, @WesleyJenkins. Entertaining and well written. Nice insight. The kind you can’t get on more established sites. I’m looking forward to having Puig with the Reds–maybe even in center field!

    Reply
  17. jreis

    Fun article Wesley. What I like about Puig is that he is a hustler. Runs out every play which I like. I think it is ok to be a hot dog as long as you play hard.
    I love BP but he was a big lolligagger. I used to cringe every time he jogged to first on a grounder because he really was the team leader after Scott Rolen left in 2012. I still think he was a big reason for a lot of the lazy play we have seen over the past 5 years as Bp was a big influence on the young players. I hope Puig can kind of “change the culture “ of the reds. Yes you can have fun but you better play hard when you are between the lines.

    Reply
  18. Sandman

    I gotta admit I was worried about his attitude negatively affecting the club and didn’t want him here.

    Still not sure about him but if he can produce offensively and play solid defense, I’ll give him a chance.

    But I will say that I don’t like showboaters and brashness and don’t think it should be accepted or even celebrated. Call me boring or whatever you want bcuz I don’t really care. I have my opinion and you have yours.

    Reply
  19. LWBlogger2

    Neat article Wes! Nice job and a fun story. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  20. Dave

    I think that’s pretty cool of him/them and there was probably a lot less press than if they hit the casino or the Landing. When did T’s start? I’m guessing it’s on the Loop, but it wasn’t around when I was (98-02). Still, cool story, Wes, and it makes me glad to have Puig in red.

    Reply

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