Jonathan Papelbon has been in the news recently due to some comments he made in an MLB Network Radio interview. When the subject of Yasiel Puig becoming an All-Star in his rookie season came up, Papelbon responded like only an athlete with below average intelligence can (transcript via ESPN.com):
"To me, it's an absolute joke."
He followed up with:
"It's really kind of stupid if you ask me."
Since being called up by the Dodgers on June 2, Puig has taken the league by storm. The 22-year-old is batting .432 along with eight home runs and 18 RBI in only 29 games.
Calling him a spark plug for the Dodgers would be an understatement. Since joining the club, Los Angeles has gone 18-11 and have jumped right backed into contention in the NL West after a horrible start to the season.
Apparently, this is not enough for Philadelphia's reliever:
"The guy's got a month, I don't even think he's got a month in the big leagues," Papelbon said during the interview. "Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he's going to make the All-Star team, that's a joke to me."
He further clarified his position:
"It's just really what happens in baseball when...to me it really does an injustice to the veteran players that have been in the game for eight-, nine-, 10-plus years. It kind of does them an injustice because they've worked so hard to stay there."
Unfortunately, this is the mindset of many veterans in Major League Baseball. Papelbon is only the first idiot to speak up. It only sheds light on one of the big problems with Major League Baseball: they refuse to embrace youth and create superstars.
Everyone needs to pay their dues. Spend years in the minors. Work their way up. Really?
One of the arguments against Puig is that although he's had a monster season so far, we've only been able to see a small sample size, and it's just not enough to make a decision.
That excuse is hogwash. (You'll have to excuse me, I'm trying to keep things professional here.)
Every year, players are selected for the All-Star Game based on statistics from only half a season. Most starters already have enough votes before that point. The "small sample size" argument doesn't work.
Additionally, does Papelbon even have an argument when his career high for innings played in a season is 70? Please.
Major League Baseball needs to get with the times. They continue to fall behind the NFL and NBA in popularity and the topic of this article sheds light on one of the big reasons why. The younger generation in the country aren't as interested as they used to be. If you are a believer in baseball and want to see the sport thrive, you should be voting for Yasiel Puig.
I haven't even mentioned the fact that L.A. is one of the largest television markets in the country. Puig in the lineup for the All-Star Game will be huge for the ratings. Los Angeles alone could dominate a Tuesday night ratings battle.
Now, baseball may have lightning in a bottle with Puig. The fans in L.A. absolutely love this guy. The atmosphere at Dodger stadium electrifies whenever he steps into the batter's box. This is a sensation even the average sports fan can pick up from a live broadcast on television. All you need is a pair of eyes to see this guy is a superstar.
My final point is this: it's up to us. The fans. We get to vote in who we believe are the All-Stars of this beautiful game. If you love the game like I do, you'll go out and vote as many times as you can for Yasiel Puig. As for the veterans who are against it? Who cares. They'll be gone soon enough.
UPDATE - July 7th, 2013
The starting rosters are set for the American and National Leagues. Major League Baseball has set up the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote for a final push by fans to get one last player into the game for each league. If you agree with the sentiment in this article, go here now and get Puig in the game!