Friday, July 12, 2013

YASIEL AND DANICA ARE THE SAME...AND DIFFERENT

Yasiel Puig and Danica Patrick have joined he pantheon of modern celebrities who are easily identified by their first names. There's no other Yasiel than Puig and no other Danica but Patrick. Both will remain enshrined in the record books of their respective sports. Danica will forever be the first woman to take the pole in NASCAR's elite racing series. Yasiel has recorded the most hits by a National League rookie during his first month in The Show. And both are formidable marketing machines, Danica with her risque GoDaddy commercials and Yasiel's official baseball jersey is a top 10 seller - at least for the time being.  There's another similarity as well. We'll get to that in a minute.

The difference?

Danica's celebrity has been built to last. In moving from IndyCar to Nationwide to Sprint Cup, Danica has built fan interest at each step along the way. She's used her assets - both her driving skills and her photogenic face, hair and body - to maximum effect. She's created and maintained a unique image, the ultimate girly-girl in a previously exclusive man's-man  sport.

Yasiel is a fiery comet whose endurance is yet to be determined. Although his first few weeks in the majors have been spectacular, have you ever heard of David Clyde? Drafted first overall by Texas in 1973 baseball draft at the age of 18 after an extraordinary college career, pitching five no-hitters in his senior year, Clyde was called up immediately, won his first game, and ended his career after five years with a record of 18 wins and 33 losses. Will Yasiel sustain his numbers over time? Only Time will tell.

Then there is that last similarity. The fan who thinks of himself as the Average Joe but who really thinks that he could be Frank Deford if only given the chance, hates both Danica and Yasiel. So what if Danica is ahead of five or six good old boys who've run the same number of races? She's got better equipment and they're perennial back markers anyway. So what if DiMaggio is the only rookie to outhit Puig in their first month? To name Puig in the same breath as DiMaggio is sacrilege. All Star? Don't make me laugh.

When every column has a comment section and there's a column to comment on every five minutes, every wannabe in boxer shorts and fuzzy slippers is an expert. Here's my take. Danica is a race car driver. Yasiel is a ball player. Deal with it. History will write itself. It doesn't need our help.

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