Last night, a wholly unnecessary scuffle broke out during the Giants and Dodgers game in Los Angeles. Yasiel Puig, a Rorschach test for baseball idiots, was upset with himself for just missing a pitch from Tony Watson. After fouling it off, he threw his bat in the air and caught it. It was perfectly clear Puig was upset with himself, and yet for some reason, Giants catcher Nick Hundley started chirping at Puig. The Dodgers outfielder turned around—yes, he had his back to Hundley—and got into his face. They jawed at each other and Puig shoved Hundley twice. The benches cleared and Puig eventually got an open hand slap across Hundley's mask.
Before we go any further it is important to note that this is 100 percent Nick Hundley's fault. There is no getting around that, and if you want to argue otherwise, you'd be better served having a nice long chat with a wall. I'm not going to entertain the "Puig shoved him first" folks. Puig was collecting himself outside of the batter's box, and was not even looking at, or even thinking about, Nick Hundley until the catcher started yapping at him...for no reason whatsoever. Don't believe me? Let's hear from the man himself:
"We're competing on the field against a team we're chasing. They've been scuffling a little bit, and we're trying to catch them. Obviously a nice rivalry," Hundley said. "We had some words and pushed a couple times. There's really not more to it than that."
That's what Hundley had to say for himself after he, and he alone, caused both team's benches and bullpens to race onto the field. "We had some words." Nick Hundley had words. And feelings. And decided to engage Yasiel Puig who, again, always seems to catch shit from these guys—"It doesn't happen with other teams," he said after the game—for basically existing, at this point.
Here's more from Puig:
"When I missed the pitch, I knew I thought it was the best pitch that Watson was gonna throw me," Puig said through an interpreter. "So I was a little upset, and [Hundley] told me to stop complaining, get back into the box. And when I got in his face, he told me to also get out of his face. So that's when I got upset.
"I didn't like that he was telling me what to do, and then he said some words to me in English that I really can't repeat. So that is why I was upset."
So, in addition to some folks being upset when a player celebrates doing something good, Nick Hundley has added a "not allowed to be mad at yourself for failing" clause to the unwritten rules of baseball.
The Giants and Dodgers are obviously a big rivalry in the NL West, so emotions run hotter than your average game, and things often get testy for exceptionally stupid reasons like the classic "Yasiel Puig looked at me." Puig always seems to be doing something that offends the Giants and capital-B baseball. But even in terms of the petty-ass Giants being aggrieved with Puig, this one was infantile.
At least when Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was pissed at Puig for looking at him, he was actually pissed at him for bat-flipping a home run (two years earlier(!!)). And yes, that last sentence is both true and extremely stupid, but no matter what: Bumgarner was upset because Puig bested him, and showed it. It's dumb, but it's also understandable why Bumgarner would be upset: he fucked up, and Puig made him pay.
But this is something else. Puig was the one who fucked up this time! He missed a pitch. And someone got mad at him for being mad at himself for fucking up. Do you know the kind of mental gymnastics you have to do to get pissed at Yasiel Puig in this situation?
- Puig is battling a pitcher
- Gets a pitch he might be able to do some damage with
- Does not do any sort of damage with it
- Is upset with himself for not doing any damage
- [Reeeeaaallly reaching for answers]
- Catcher thinks Puig thinks he should have gotten the better of the pitcher?
- Because Puig thinks he is better than the pitcher?
- Even though the pitcher in every conceivable way came out the winner in this situation?
OK, I honestly have no idea what Hundley was thinking in this situation and we will never know because he gave some chickenshit response to the media afterwards and no one will press him on it or question it. Puig also said Hundley "said some words to me in English that I really can't repeat," and do you know what The Good Baseball Man's response was?
Hundley declined to reveal what was said.
“That’s stuff that stays on the field,” he said. “We both made the choice to get in each other’s face. We made the choice to go at it.”
I really cannot stress enough that Nick Hundley made the choice to start this. And did not even have the guts to stand before the media and explain why. That, my friends, is Unwritten Rules 101. If Hundley's diaper were dry last night, Yasiel Puig would have simply stepped back in the batter's box and waited for his next pitch. Instead, we have another installment of weak-ass feuds between the Dodgers and Giants because some baseball players are physically incapable of acting like professional adults.
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.