We have been truly spoiled as Dodgers fans these last few seasons. Division title after Division title, back to back World Series appearances… Don’t get me wrong, it still hurts like hell that we haven’t gotten over the hump. But other fanbases would kill for a team this competitive.
This wasn’t the case under the Frank McCourt era, and it wasn’t until Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the team in 2012 that things began to turn around. The group made a commitment to the fan base that they would invest heavily in the on-field product, and invest they did. One of the first players that the new ownership group signed was none other than Cuban phenom, Yasiel Puig.
A Debut for the Ages
After signing a 7-year, $42 million deal as an international free agent (a record deal at the time), Puig wasted no time getting acclimated. He signed midway through the 2012 season and made his Major League debut a year later, almost to the day. The Dodgers were in a funk that year, just as they were the year before that. With a 23-32 record and an 8.5 game deficit in the West standings, no one believed they had the group to break their postseason drought.
But that all changed on June 3, 2013. The highly regarded Cuban had been tearing it up in the minors and fans were ready to see what he could do. The energy was palpable from the moment the team announced they were calling him up.
— MLB (@MLB) June 3, 2013
The #Dodgers option Matt Magill to AAA and call up Yasiel Puig from AA.
— AlaNNa Rizzo (@alannarizzo) June 2, 2013
Matt Magill versus Yasiel Puig. What took them so long to call him up again?? I remember to this day how quickly I went online to see how much tickets were, because no matter what, I had to be at that game. And let me just say, Puig did not disappoint.
In his first seven games, all he did was hit .464 with 4 homers, 10 RBI, 2 doubles, and some otherworldly outfield assists. It’s hard to put into words just how impressive his debut week was, so I’ll let Vin narrate it all for your enjoyment.
Puig’s Impact on LA
There is no way to fully comprehend the impact that Yasiel had on the Dodgers and LA without revisiting the Frank McCourt days. Attendance was dropping. The team was cutting payroll and the product on the field showed. There was no real end in sight. But Guggenheim and Puig changed it all. The fans adored him and the players fed off of his energy. He singlehandedly brought the roar back to the stadium and nearly propelled them to their first NL Pennant since they won it all in ’88. Had it not been for the untimely rib fracture of Hanley Ramirez, that year’s team might’ve won it all.
This week marks 7 years since his electric debut, and looking back, that year changed the course of Dodgers baseball. While his time in Los Angeles may not have ended quite the way we all pictured it, Puig was the spark that lit the fire. Love him or hate him, the Wild Horse changed baseball in LA for good.
So thank you, Yasiel. For the memories on the field and for all you did within the community. You will always be a part of Dodgers’ History.
What are your favorite memories of Yasiel Puig? Let us know in the comments below!