One of the funny memories from SoSG Fest III (2012) was the fact that some of us in the group, with the Dodgers in second place and 4.5 GB the Giants at the time of the extravaganza, thought that the Dodgers had a legitimate shot at the playoffs. (Okay, to be fair, I think I was one of only two people in the assembled group of people who believed this.). Of course, following that 3-2 victory over San Francisco, the Dodgers went on to drop eight of their next 12 games to plummet to 11 GB. And I, for one, was so drunk after screaming "PLAYOFFS!" all afternoon, that I couldn't get to post a proper PGT.
Fast forward to June 24, 2013. With the Dodgers 8.0 GB and in last place in the NL West, we're hearing the cry for "PLAYOFFS!" yet again. Except this time, it's not just coming from your ever-optimisitic Sax here. It's coming from Nick Punto and the rest of the Dodgers' clubhouse, thanks to the remarkable play of Yasiel Puig:
Punto talked about Puig's abundant talent, then slipped this in: "Hopefully, we can ride him into the playoffs."
Kind of sounds presumptuous at first, doesn't it, a team that is nine games under .500 zeroing in on July -- that has been breathing the exhaust fumes of the four other teams in its division all season -- talking about the playoffs? And yet, this is no ordinary ride Puig is providing.
The impressive part isn't the quantity of Puig's production -- the .442 batting average, seven home runs, 14 RBIs in 20 games. … OK, come to think of it, those numbers are the impressive part. But they're not what has the Dodgers wondering just how far a talent like this can carry them.
What has inspired the latest stirrings of hope are the qualitative aspects of Puig's game, the way he has backed off the plate to adjust to the relentless barrage of inside fastballs, the strong hands that allow him to flick an 85-mph changeup over the wall in right field.
"Yasiel is a phenomenal talent right now," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "The league's trying to figure him out and he's making them scratch their heads a lot."
A TV reporter caught up with Los Angeles Dodgers utility infielder Nick Punto after L.A.'s 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night and asked him about -- get this -- Yasiel Puig.
Playoffs? It's so crazy, it just might work. At least, if Puig keeps mashing along, making believers out of everyone.