Yasiel Puig Does Not Flip a Bat
by Patrick Dubuque
The game is tied in the eighth. Casilla hangs a slider and moments later, a baseball lands in the seventh row of the bleachers. Twenty-six people claw at each other as the ball glances off a glove, strikes a seat, bounces back into the air. The rest face Yasiel Puig.
Puig lays his bat gently on the ground. He does not smile. “I wish that I could speak to each of you,” he says to no one, as he begins his ritual. “I wish I could make you understand the joy that is in my heart. It is the same as yours, I think, in its essence. But you are there, and I am here. I cannot speak to you. Instead I must run these bases, even though the act is already done, even though all the rest is symbolism. I must do this because it is expected, because we dare not imagine an alternative.”
He rounds third, his pace neither slow nor quick. “The ritual is not so bad,” he admits, mechanically receiving the high five of his third base coach. “I do enjoy it. But it is not me. The ball is me, the moment I hit it. But even that is yours, now.”
As his teammates congratulate him with their own high fives, he grins. Even though he knows that this, too, is an imperfect reflection of his soul, he cannot restrain it. Someday, he thinks, as he finds a spot on the bench and sips some water, I will remain Yasiel Puig even after I hit the ball. Someday I will not run the bases. Someday I will hit the ball, and walk out to the wall and climb it, and pick it up.