BOTTOM OF THE NINTH: DODGERS 5 (2) – 4 WHITE SOX
You turn on the broadcast and there’s a line.
“The home run that Puig hit in Miami on the first day of the second half—a seminal moment of his career.”
Sixty seconds before seminal moment 2.0. So you get to thinking, as Yasiel Puig steps into the box, what’s might be that most seminal of seminal Yasiel Puig moments?
You’ve got the starter moment, the Puig being Puig. Puig the dancer, Puig the trickster. With number five you’ve got: The Ryu Noogie.
You’ve got the Puig as fight-starter, braggadocio Puig. Giants-killer. Baumgarner-irritant. Take a pitch and home-run Puig.
You’ve got Walk-off Puig. Slide into home plate Puig. “Wild horse has led the team to the barn” Puig.
You’ve got Debut Week Puig. 9-3 Walk-Off Double Play Put-Out Puig.
And then, you have End of Story Puig. Laser from the Warning Track Puig. Bo Jackson Puig.
Oh, and that moment they’d mentioned on the broadcast? Maybe the greatest of the all-Puig photography annals. Game one after the All-Star break, this year, the greatest season in modern Dodgers history. Puig winning one in the host city, hitting a three-run come-from-behind winner into the Home Run Sculpture in Miami. The dugout going wild—like a painting of L.A. Dodgers perfection.
And so, tonight, we have our guy. Again. Another seminal Yasiel Puig moment at his fingertips.
Dodgers down one. Bottom of the ninth. Exactly fifty games over .500. Fifty. Fifty! Going for fifty-one. Runners on first and third. Yasiel Puig at the bat.
A rematch of the 1959 World Series, that rare interleague matchup that’s brought the White Sox out to Los Angeles.
The fans still into it, chanting, cheering—as you would when your team’s at 83 wins and counting.
The season after the Puig demotion, the Kershaw injury, the Vin Scully retirement, the Dave Roberts debut, the speeding past the Giants for the NL West title, the Game 5 against the Nationals, the almost-berth into the 2016 World Series.
Pure perfection this time around, a full 38.0 games ahead of the Giants.
So Puig is up. Down one, with Forsythe having doubled home Bellinger after two brilliant at-bats.
Dodger Stadium LOUD. “Let’s. Go. Dod-gers!!” booming around the ballpark.
One guy yelling just for Puig alone.
Rick Renteria comes out, again. No pitching change. Infield meeting. A long one. The umpire breaks it up.
Puig Fear at its all-time high.
He steps back in. Twisting the bat around in his hand. Dirt on his shirt from earlier in the game.
Takes a pitch. 2-1. Smacks himself in the helmet with his bat. Steps out, spins around in place, steps back in. Gestures an apology to the ump.
Rips a line drive down the line….. just foul. Puig winces, Dodger Stadium “Aaaah”s.
Oh SHIT!!! I just went out of my skin on that foul ball! # Let’s go Puig!
— Richard (@dodgers52) August 17, 2017
Full count. A single or sac-fly will tie it. Puig fouls one off and falls over on top of the plate. Amped up and antics all over.
He fouls off another.
Kershaw bouncing up and down behind the dugout railing.
Puig’s hands back, dialed in, set—waiting for the pitch.
On the broadcast: “Can Yasiel Puig deliver?”
A second later, the pitch comes. Fastball over the plate. Line drive into the gap in left-center.
“You BET he can!”
Forsythe scores. Barnes rounds second, rounds third, comes all the way home from first and scores the winning run. Walk-off. Dodgers win.
Puig literally fell down in the batters box fouling off a pitch. Gets up, 3 pitches later, game-winning 2-run double.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) August 17, 2017
Puig with his arms in the arm like a king at second base, Clayton Kershaw out first from the dugout with a giant leaping hug into his arms.
The whole team surrounds him. Puig smooching the batting coach on the cheek.
You see all this, and you think back to that line: “A seminal moment in Yasiel Puig’s career.”
You think back to that line, and you’ve just seen another.
“You see this game? I’ll see you in the World Series, man.” Yasiel Puig after the Dodgers walk-off for the 10th time in 2017. pic.twitter.com/96PIFvbDys
— Ryan Walton (@RyanWaltonSBN) August 17, 2017
The most exciting man in all of baseball. Mr. Yasiel Puig.