Puig Forever

Cincinnati Reds legend Yasiel Puig traded mid-game, still fights the Pirates for old time's sake

July 31, 2019
Pittsburgh Pirates  v Cincinnati Reds
Andy Lyons

Yasiel Puig was a Cincinnati Red for 222 days. Yasiel Puig is a Cincinnati Reds legend. Both of these things are absolutely true. On Tuesday night, Puig—who was in Cincinnati for a cup of coffee chili-smothered spaghetti this season—punched his way into Cincy folklore, conking a few Pittsburgh Pirate dome pieces together like congas despite being traded to the Indians midway through the NL Central showdown.

Call him a merc. Call him hired muscle. But whatever you do, just don't call him Shirley.

The heroic display of Midwest tribalism kicked off in the seventh when the Pirates' Keone Kela threw some chin music on the jukebox for Derek Dietrich, who has spent much of the season making the Buccos' pitching staff look like noodle-armed toddlers. The thunder grumbled and Joey Votto left the dugout to jaw with Kela, but the storm didn't let loose until the ninth, when Reds reliever Amir Garret charged the Pirates dugout, sparking what was by far the finest bench-clearing brouhaha in the majors this season, resulting in the ejection of five Reds and manager David Bell, who got the hook in the eighth only to come wheeling back onto to the field for the finale, where he was promptly put in a headlock by Pirates hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

Yasiel Puig, not one to let a good fighting opportunity go to waste even if he had, in fact, been swapped for fellow emotional tire fire Trevor Bauer 25 minutes earlier in what will now forever be known as the Reverse Wilmer Flores, ended his Reds career as he began it: Single-handedly beating the Thanksgiving stuffing out of the poor Pittsburgh Pirates.

Puig's first dust-up with the Pirates back in April was eventually commemorated with a line of limited-edition t-shirts, but here's hoping Cincinnati goes the extra mile for his second stand. For this selfless display of Cincinnati pride, a Puig statue—severed Pirates helmet held proudly aloft—overlooking downtown doesn't seem out of the question. I mean, who else are they gonna build one for? Andy Dalton?

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