Sampling of columns of note from the past week

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 18, 2014 at 7:06 am •  Published: April 18, 2014
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Sampling of columns of note from the past week

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

(MCT)

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TIM KAWAKAMI, San Jose Mercury News, on 49ERS’ BEHAVIOR WOES:

According to an NFL source, Chris Culliver was with Aldon Smith in the Southwest terminal on Sunday, same flight, but was not involved in any of the trouble. Culliver is not presumed to have been spending time with Smith in LA. It’s possible Culliver just happened to be there and was flying back on same flight.

But the source did allow that it is a wild convergence that the two 49ers players currently under felony charges were together when Smith was detained in another potentially very serious incident. Just that kind of offseason.

Right to the point: My view, after talking to several sources involved with the 49ers’ decision-making, is that troubled linebacker Aldon Smith hasn’t only lost the benefit of the doubt, he probably won’t play for the 49ers in 2014.

That doesn’t mean the 49ers will release him any time soon — remember, he almost certainly will face NFL punishment, it probably won’t be lenient, and the 49ers will probably wait through the legal and NFL processes before making any final conclusion.

They also are on the hook for a guaranteed $3 million-plus to Smith and have time to see how this plays out before dumping him and throwing away the money (and letting him have the money for nothing, by the way).

But there is a weariness and frustration over Smith’s behavior that I’ve never heard involving any recent 49ers player. Until this week.

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BILL PLASCHKE, Los Angeles Times, on DODGERS’ YASIEL PUIG:

LOS ANGELES — Seemingly from the moment Cuban refugee Yasiel Puig showed up at Dodger Stadium out of nowhere, arriving last June unwilling to discuss his unknown background, the talk behind the batting cages has been rife with unprintable rumors.

There were rumors Puig was smuggled out of Cuba by members of a Mexican drug cartel. There were rumors he still owed the smugglers money, and that his life could be in jeopardy. There was talk about Puig being essentially owned by a Miami businessman with a criminal record who hired those smugglers in exchange for 20 percent of the ballplayer’s future earnings.

Who knew that all those rumors could actually be true? According to a richly researched and chillingly written story by Jesse Katz in the May issue of Los Angeles Magazine, Puig’s journey to Los Angeles was even more harrowing than realized, and continues to be more frightening than imagined.

In an account featuring on-the-record interviews and court records, Katz details how, in June 2012, Puig was smuggled to Mexico by members of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel, his trip funded by a Miami air-conditioning repairman named Raul Pacheco who was on probation for attempted burglary. The smugglers held Puig in a seedy Mexican hotel for more than two weeks while attempting to extract increased payments from Pacheco. Eventually Puig was taken from the hotel by a gang organized by Pacheco and soon thereafter joined the Los Angeles Dodgers by signing a $42 million contract.

The stunning timeline doesn’t even scratch the surface of a compelling tale that recounts Puig’s humble childhood in a tiny rural village, how he was dropped from his Cuban league team for disciplinary reasons, reports of his failed defections, and accusations that he turned in potential defectors to the Cuban government while planning his own escape.

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MIKE BIANCHI, Orlando Sentinel, on THE MASTERS EFFECT:

Bubba lives in Tiger’s old house.

Bubba parks in Tiger’s old spot.

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