The triple was already well established as the “most exciting play in baseball” going into game three of the National League Championship Series. Scratch that. The “most exciting play in baseball” is now the Yasiel Puig Triple. Puig had struck out in seven of his 11 at bats when he came up in the fourth inning in the Dodgers 3-0 win, so as they say in the sports world, he was due. Upon contact, the youngster flipped his bat and went into his home run trot. The problem with that is that the ball wasn’t even close to a homer, hitting at the base of the right field wall. This is not the first time Puig had chosen to admire one his clouts that didn’t clear the fence. Just a thought: Dodgers fans waved white rally towels, and supporters of Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu waved South Korean flags. Maybe Dodgers manager Don Mattingly can wave a green flag the minute Puig makes contact to remind him to go full throttle right from the starting line. Puig’s Great Adventure was only getting under way. Realizing his gaffe, he went into an Olympic sprinter’s gait, a blur as he dashed around second to third. After arriving at third, Puig stood on the base for the celebration, extending his arms to the sky. You wondered if he expected his teammates to run out on the field and start spraying champagne on him. On his next triple, will he stop at first and second and take a bow before proceeding to third? Puig’s showboating antics leave him an easy target for criticism, but you have to ask yourself: What was the most exciting moment of game three? Puig’s at bats, even his strikeouts, are just a little more entertaining than those of the traditionalists. Any ball hit to right field when he’s out there is worth monitoring for great, bad or ugly. And don’t forget that rifle arm. My only suggestion for Puig is that he borrow Hanley Ramirez’s flak jacket for tonight’s game because the Cardinals might be arriving at Dodger Stadium in a bad mood.
GAME 3 NOTES;
* As if Puig’s three-bagger swagger wasn’t enough, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez added his own goofy gyrations after arriving at second base with an RBI double. Gonzalez made gestures that were described by writers as “some hand jive” that “resembled an explosion.” Whatever the meaning of the celebratory display, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright wasn’t pleased. “I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff at second,” Wainwright said. Gonzalez said that was exactly the point, noting that in Southern California, “Mickey Mouse stuff goes. Mickey Mouse is only an hour away.”
* The Cardinals are batting .134, they’ve scored four runs, they’ve gone 13 innings without a run. They let Carl Crawford score from second when they got nonchalant with the relay throw after a bloop hit to center. Right fielder Carlos Beltran let Puig’s shot ricochet by him, turning a double into a triple. Center fielder John Jay and Beltran turned into spectators while converging on a drive to right center, letting the ball fall between them with neither making an effort to make the catch. Daniel Descalso wandered too far off second on a very catchable liner to left, and was doubled off on Crawford’s throw. Boy, it’s no wonder why the Cardinals are down 3-0 and on the verge of elimination. Oh, wait, the Cardinals are actually leading two games to one. But be warned St. Louis, the most trusted man in baseball, Vin Scully, said after the final lout, “The Dodgers are alive and well.”
* One more great stat on the Cardinals, courtesy of Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He wrote that beginning with game 5 against the Giants last year, the Cardinals are hitting .157 with four runs in their last six NLCS games.
* Hanley Ramirez can hit, but his national reputation entering this post season was as a player who got lackadaisical at times and did some weird “goggles” gesture when he did something good. However, Ramirez’s willingness to play with a broken rib while wearing a flak jacket, his contributions to the win and his straightforward, gracious post-game interview might help shift the focus to fact that he can play the game.
* A treat of the TBS coverage has been the pre- and post-game shows hosted by Keith Olbermann. Many have tried, but few have Olbermann’s wit and style in describing the highlights and keeping the conversation of his analysts moving along. Too bad the show can’t be carried over for the World Series — and if the Dodgers make it, they could do the show from Disneyland.