Baseball must have some sort of death wish.
What else should we think when we've got a relief pitcher and a broadcaster and other baseball types saying Yasiel Puig has no place in the All-Star Game?
His place should be front and center.
The Dodgers rookie phenom is the biggest thing going in baseball. Every time he plays, he does something that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. He throws out base runners from the warning track. He smacks hits that scream through the Los Angeles night.
Through Tuesday night's game, Puig was hitting .407 with eight homers and 19 RBIs.
But there are some who say he shouldn't be in the All-Star Game because he hasn't been in the big leagues long enough, that he hasn't paid his dues.
Luckily, the luddites have a chance to be overruled by folks who can save baseball from itself — the fans.
The final spots in the All-Star Game will be awarded based on fan voting. As of Wednesday afternoon, Puig was running a close second to Atlanta's Freddie Freeman in the National League balloting.
Voting ends Thursday at 3 p.m.
I've already voted for Puig.
The Dodgers are doing what they can to get lots more people to do the same. The team is hosting voting parties around Los Angeles to give the Puig a push. Fans get together during Dodgers games, watching the broadcast while casting votes for Puig on their phones, laptops and tablets.
Fans can vote as many times as they want, so folks at the parties are clicking on Puig's name as fast as they can.
They've seen what he can do, after all.
In case Dodgers games come on a little too late for you — those West Coast start times are a bear — do yourself a favor and check out some of Puig's highlights on YouTube. When you type in his name, the predictive mode kicks in and spits out things like “Puig mania” and “Yasiel Puig makes ridiculous throw”.
That second one is no lie.
On June 3, Puig made his major league debut, and he ended the game against the Padres with a double play like you've never seen before. He caught a fly ball on the warning track, then threw a strike to first base to double up a base runner.
It was a sign of the greatness to come.
That night he threw out the runner at first, there were thousands of empty seats in L.A.
Less than a week later, when he made another amazing throw to peg a runner at third, those same stands were packed. People in Los Angeles know a thing or two about good entertainment.
Puig is the summer blockbuster.
And yet, there are some who don't want to see him in the All-Star Game.
Last week, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was asked about Puig's inclusion in the All-Star Game during an interview on the MLB Radio Network.
“To me, it's an absolute joke,” he said. “It's really kind of stupid if you ask me.”
Papelbon said he hadn't been in the league long enough; Puig started the season in the minors before being called up to the majors on June 2.
“Just comparing him to this and that and saying he's going to make the All-Star team, that's a joke to me,” Papelbon said. “To me, it really does an injustice to the veteran players that have been in the game for eight-, nine-, 10-plus years. It kind of does them an injustice because they've worked so hard to stay there.”
Fox analyst Tim McCarver expressed similar sentiments during a recent broadcast. He contended that 80 percent of players wouldn't support Puig's inclusion in the game because it would take a spot from someone who played the entire season.
That may be.
But here's the deal — the All-Star Game isn't for the players, it's for the fans.
And the fans can't get enough of Puig.
During his first week in the bigs, the Dodgers sold more Puig-related merchandise than they'd ever sold of any player during a four-day period. More than Manny Ramirez. More than Hideo Nomo. More than Fernando Valenzuela.
Puig is hypnotic. He has an amazing but mysterious back story, defecting from Cuba but revealing nothing of the journey that brought him to the United States. It feels like this baseball deity appeared out of nowhere this season, and in a way, he did.
But just because he's just burst on the scene shouldn't keep him out of the All-Star Game. He's packed as many big-time, game-changing plays into his thirty-something games as anyone who's played the entire first half of the season.
Anyone who thinks he doesn't belong in the Midsummer Classic is just being foolish.
“They don't really understand this is the entertainment business,” former Dodger star Steve Garvey recently told The Associated Press. “This is our showcase.”
The All-Star Game is baseball's time to shine — but you've got to have the best and the brightest to do that.
No one has been better or brighter than Yasiel Puig.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.