The outfit is wrong. Standing in the kitchen of his house in Encino, Calif., on a late January morning, Yasiel Puig looks down at his wardrobe and sees a problem. His t-shirt is blue; so are his athletic shorts. (No word on his underwear.) This won’t do, he decides. He retreats to his second-floor bedroom, then returns a while later covered in red: a Hugo Boss polo shirt the color of a Maraschino cherry, leather sneakers brighter than a stop sign, and a backwards baseball cap bearing his personal logo. (He goes with blue jeans, though, because even Yasiel Puig isn’t brash enough to wear red denim.)
Why the sartorial change of heart? He owes it to the gleaming Lamborghini Huracán Spyder sitting in his driveway, provided to him by a local company called Syndicate Enterprises that rents exotic cars and whose co-owner is a friend. But since his temporary new ride is as blue as the waters off the Bahamas, Puig wants to stand out against the Lambo’s paint job. As such, blue is out, and red is in—and not for the first time this winter, either.
A month earlier, Puig got the phone call he’d been expecting for a while. Along with Matt Kemp and Alex Wood, he was traded from the Dodgers to the Reds, ending a productive yet bumpy six-year tenure in Los Angeles that saw Puig become synonymous with the franchise and made him a nationwide phenomenon. The Dodgers had gambled $42 million on the talented but unrefined outfielder from Cienfuegos, Cuba in 2012 in a move that paid off handsomely for both parties. But it was time to wave goodbye to Dodger blue, and say hello to Cincinnati crimson.
“Blue for my people in Los Angeles, red for the fans in Cincinnati,” Puig says as he heads upstairs to swap out his shirt and pants, adding, “God bless America.”
Why not praise his second home? Since arriving, Puig has become a multi-millionaire and built a family with his girlfriend, Andrea. He’s one of the league’s most recognizable faces and public performers, equally adept at smashing fastballs as he is goofing around on Instagram. (Within a span of a couple of weeks stretching from January into February, his 865,000 followers could watch him race golf carts in Hawaii, dance in his car as he drove around Miami, throw axes in Los Angeles, and take a tour of snowy Cincinnati.) He is the turbocharged embodiment of the game’s next generation, gleefully thumbing his noise at the sport’s decades of stuffy tradition through his boisterous style of play.