Have you heard of Tommy La Stella? He's a nice, average player who is having a career year (.295 average) this season for the Cubs.
But because the Cubs are really good this season and have a lot of good players, they sent La Stella down to the minors on July 29 despite him having a .846 OPS in 122 plate appearances. Since then, he's been AWOL and nobody seems to really care. Not the Cubs. Not the media. Not baseball Twitter.
La Stella had three days to report to Triple-A Iowa after he was sent down. He's still taking his time.
This is all kind of weird, no? Usually this kind of clear insubordination would have teams shooting out some kind of recrimination. The Cubs didn't even put him on the temporary inactive list until Monday. Nobody seems to have noticed.
"Hopefully we'll have a resolution sooner rather than later, but we're just trying to give him time," Chicago GM Jed Hoyer said. "He's processing a lot of things right now and working through some issues. We're trying to give him the time to do that. We want him back and playing. There's no question he makes us a better team and a better organization. We're trying to think of him right now and try and allow him the time to process what he needs to process to get back on the field."
It seems like the Cubs are willing to let La Stella work out whatever issues he has. Hoyer says that nothing is wrong with La Stella, and a teammate told the Chicago Tribune that he won't retire. So, for now, all the information points to a player unwilling to take a demotion.
It's a funny thing the way this is being covered. Or not covered. And just completely ignored.
Sure, La Stella is a replacement level player nobody knew much about in the first place, but he's broken the first rule of up-in-arms, hyperventilating sports bloviators: He's looking out for his best interests. This is supposed to be the cardinal sin. First Take was created to monetize fake outrage over things like this.
And consider the coverage of La Stella against that of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, whose every movement is analyzed.
Puig was not heard from for a couple hours after his recent demotion and the whole baseball world went apeshit. Then after reporting to his Triple-A team, Puig had some fun with his minor league teammates, cursed a little, danced some, and made some questionable beer choices — and then posted it all on Snapchat. That led to Dodgers president Andrew Friedman releasing a statement to announce that they're on Snapchat too — just like the kids — and monitoring the situation. We get it, Friedman, the extra two percent is shaming your players for using the wrong filter.
It's a questionable juxtaposition. Is it just that La Stella is largely irrelevant in the greater baseball world? Or that the Cubs play in a small media market with an apathetic fan base and little following? Or is there some kind of unfair double standard at play that makes Puig a constant target and allows others to largely be ignored for doing things that are just as detrimental, if not worse?
Puig gained a poor reputation for being habitually late. La Stella just disappeared for the last 13 days. Chris Sale turned his jersey into an arts and craft project. But Puig has a celebration problem.