As our friend the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Big results require big ambitions.”
Say this for Yasiel Puig, he is nothing if not hugely ambitious. No, bigger than that. Still bigger.
Remember that talk Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire instigated last week about Puig winning the most-valuable-player award, or even multiple ones? Small potatoes, mere stepping stones to where Puig wants to go.
Which is like baseball’s current Mt. Rushmore.
Puig told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez he wants to become the baseball version of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. The elite of the elite.
The Dodgers outfielder said the players he considers worthy of replacing Derek Jeter as the face of baseball are Clayton Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano and Mike Trout.
“I want to be there,” Puig said.
Now maybe this is where you think I get all sassy and cynical, pointing out Puig has a few zillion steps between where he finished last season and becoming an iconic representation of his sport.
On the contrary, I applaud his ambition. All for it. Could not endorse it more if it were a campaign to guarantee free college education. (Did I ever mention I have three boys?)
Because he’s put it out there now. Put himself out there. It’s not you or me or anyone else making grandiose claims of how good he could be. It’s Puig himself.
He showed up to camp early this spring, which is encouraging. Said he has paid attention to the work ethic of veteran teammates Kershaw and Adrian Gonzalez. That he heeded the counsel of Cano when they were in Japan as part of an All-Star team that played a series of exhibition games.
“Now, I have a greater commitment to myself, to the team, to the public,” Puig said.
Now as some people feel committed to pointing out to me, words are cheap. But before doing the right thing, you have to recognize what it is. You normally have to verbalize goals.
And Puig has, has to the highest possible extent. So good for him. Go for it, get after it. I’m all for ambition. Hopefully he does get that first MVP before Hernandez wins a Pulitzer. Wins several.
If it’s going to help him focus and commit and put forth the kind of concerted effort that will help him become the full player everyone knows he can become, how is that not a good thing?
The Dodgers are hopeful they have a maturing Puig on their hands. File that under “time will tell.” But few things remain the same, including the performance of a ballplayer. Or as our buddy Heraclitus said, “Nothing endures but change.”
Here’s to hoping this season, Puig is changing for the better.
Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @stevedilbeck