Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run in the first inning during the MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Remember in August 2008 when the Dodgers traded for Manny Ramirez? I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I found out Los Angeles acquired the eccentric outfielder.
But most of all, what I remember is the impact he had on the 2008 ballclub and how Dodger fans reacted. MannyWood is a time that is far behind us as fans, but will never be forgotten.
A feeling similar to MannyWood had not been present at Dodger Stadium until the arrival of Yasiel Puig this season. Puig Mania, Puig Fever, Viva Puig or whatever you may call it, has swept over fans, media and the organization so quickly that it is hard to believe he has played just 21 games in his big league career.
Even Don Mattingly recognizes the similarities to MannyWood.
"(It's) a lot like Manny," Mattingly said. "A little different though. Manny for me, it wasn’t like the unknown. This kid here is, like, fresh. Nobody knows what he is going to do next.”
“It’s unbelievable," Mattingly added. "It’s fun to watch and it’s new and fresh.”
When the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez the team was sitting at .500, and the offensive surge brought about by Ramirez pushed them to finish 84-78, securing the top spot in the NL West. Ramirez became a fan favorite as “MannyWood” took over Los Angeles.
Those days are long gone, but the feeling at Dodger Stadium with Yasiel Puig is reminiscent of MannyWood. The stadium is electric, and fans are watching the game closer waiting to see what he will do next.
“Our fans feed off of it. He plays with a lot of energy,” Mattingly said on Monday.
In his first 20 career games, Puig has hit an outstanding .442/.476/.753 with seven home runs, 14 RBI and a shown fantastic defense in the outfield. Manny put up very similar numbers when he came up, .394/.494/.690 with six home runs, and 21 RBI.
The organization is definitely capitalizing on Puig’s popularity. Walking through the tunnels to the Dodgers’ clubhouse on Monday, Puig could be seen filming a commercial, and he already has an ad with Adrian Gonzalez promoting the game this Saturday for Dodgers Earbuds Night.
It took just three games for his T-shirt to arrive at the Top Of The Park store -- and four games for his highlights to get included into the Dodgers pre-game intro video.
Also, the Dodgers announced on Monday that they have added a Yasiel Puig giveaway night on July 14 -- a T-shirt with his picture, No. 66, and the words "Puig Factor" emblazoned across it.
The hype for the young Cuban is unreal. And yet so deserved.
MannyWood came and went in a flash, as he alienated fans with his drug suspension and attitude, but Puig is under contract for six years. He may not hit .400 in his MLB career, but at least he could be a star in Los Angeles for years to come.