Posted November 18, 2013

J.P. Howell clarifies comments on reported bullying of Yasiel Puig

MLB
Yasiel Puig left Monday's game with a mild right knee strain. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Yasiel Puig was criticized for a lack of maturity in his rookies season. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Jonathan Martin’s recent allegations that he was bullied by teammate Richie Incognito and Dolphins players have brought bullying to the forefront of professional sports.

Dodgers pitcher J.P. Howell — whose wife has written an illustrated anti-bullying book for children — said that rookie phenom Yasiel Puig had been bullied in the clubhouse, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

But the pitcher later clarified his comments, saying that he didn’t mean Puig had been bullied by the Dodgers. Shaikin stands by his reporting, according to the newspaper.

“Not in the clubhouse, never by teammates,” Howell told Dodgers.com. “I was asked if Puig had been bullied and I said yes, but I meant by fans and media and people on the outside that don’t know him. Never in the clubhouse. Are you kidding? People early in the season said our clubhouse wouldn’t have chemistry, and it turned out to be an awesome clubhouse — everybody got along.”

Howell, 30, said he had been bullied as a kid and bullied at the start of his career. As a rookie, Howell said he had his only suit — a gift from his father — shredded by a player who didn’t replace it. What some players might call hazing affected Howell that season. He did not specify whether the incident occurred during his 15 games with the Royals in 2005 or his short 2006 stints with the Rays.

SI WIRE: Jonathan Martin meeting with NFL on Friday over bullying allegations

“I didn’t know how to handle the situation,” Howell said. “I wish I would have. I was distracted. I was scared to be around him in the gym. If you’re intimidated by somebody because of their actions, that’s bullying.”

Lawrence Taylor: Jonathan Martin is too ‘weak-minded’ to play in the NFL

Howell’s idea of what constitutes bullying might surprise many players. He explained that he had no problem with traditional rookie initiations such as carrying gum and sunflower seeds to the bullpen in a little girl’s backpack. He did object to the pressure exerted in some clubhouses for players to party and drink late into the night.

“You have to know that you can say no and you’ll be all right,” Howell said.

Howell also related baseball’s long practice for pitchers to throw at batters, to defend the sport’s “unwritten rules” as bullying, citing Ian Kennedy throwing at the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke last season.

“When he’s throwing at someone’s head, you could be going to be a funeral,” Howell said. “To me, that’s a bully. He might be a great guy. But, on the baseball field, that is wrong.”

SI WIRE: Report: Richie Incognito files grievance against Dolphins


67 comments
JeffCrane
JeffCrane

Seems to be a lot of angry guys who probably didn't ever play ball at a higher level making comments. While these athletes get to play "kid's game" for a living, they are still young men. Mild hazing to intrude players to the majors is probably fine for chemistry. And, coaches at low levels should take Crash Davis' advice " they're kids; scare 'em" to get players to focus on the difficult tasks at hand. Good coaches and teammates know where to draw the line.

The other stuff is just mean--or harmful, and actually hurts chemistry. It's not coddling. It's protecting your player investment to rein in bullying of young players. Not wanting to bullied doesn't mean someone is a baby. These are real guys, not interchangeable fantasy pieces.

TimothyBrown
TimothyBrown

I would think since he doesn't know English yet how would he know if he was being bullied assuming it was verbal only ? 

OP3366
OP3366

People who knock Howell seem almost threatened by an athlete who can think, speak, and is not afraid to speak his mind.  Rather than discussing bullying in society and trying what it is doing to young people in a way not possible before social media, let's say Howell is a lousy player or make personal attacks.  Children.

JoseAbreo
JoseAbreo

This guy Puig, played lousy during the playoffs.  He better learn how to play professional baseball fast or the Dodgers will continue to see his type of play for years to come.  All brawn no brain.  

DODGERFAIL2013
DODGERFAIL2013

WAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH JP Howell!

ichiro had his suit cut up during his first MLB season too.

puig is a clown and needs the tough love anyways.  DODGERS SUCK!

MikeKing
MikeKing

How many players have died after being hit in the head in MLB?  Going to a funeral?  You are a joke! 

Then if Puig acts like a jerk it is ok because it is his defense mechanism.  Maybe someone "bullying" someone in the club house is their defense mechanism.  Then it would be ok to JP.  


tkswilsonall
tkswilsonall

This is what happens when children are raised in warm and fuzzy-ville, and never taught to ignore stupid comments, be confident, and walk tall.

Why would someone be bullied in elementary school, middle school, high school, and as an adult? And other people are never bullied, ever?

Earthling1
Earthling1

Seems like a lot of people take the bully's side in this issue and they do exactly what the bully does -- make it out like what they did wasn't that big a deal. Bullies should have to be made to feel utterly powerless and at the mercy of someone who hates them -- because that's how they make their victims feel.

eddie767
eddie767

Why is he just now saying something? If he didn't say anything when he saw it,then he condoned it. So i don't think anything,out of the norm.,happened he just wants his name in the press.

gymviking
gymviking

"Bullying" seems to be the hysteria of the day. It's particularly nuts when people try to apply it to jocks (as the victims) who may have actually bullied others their whole lives.

I'm pretty sure that, even in the Dodgers clubhouse, there are very few people that could actually bully Puig.


serveaux
serveaux

I'm pretty sure there's more important things in the world to worry about... like if vaccines give you autism and if rainbows have feelings

TheVon
TheVon

Attention Sports Media:  The bullying meme has officially jumped the shark.

Bazelope
Bazelope

I have the answer to all of this:  We all turn gay and we all hug and kiss each other until we all throw up.  Problem solved!  The ladies can fend for themselves since they all hate us anyway!  Pucker up boys!

Rudolph
Rudolph

To me, it's not enough to stand up to a bully; you have to take him down....for the count!  If you only stand up to a bully, he might stop but will get away with actions he's already taken against you.  What good is that?  You need to get even.  You need to retaliate.  Therefore, I applaud Jonathan Martin for taking it to the media.  He took it to another level and completely ruined Incognito's career.  He won this fight and deserves our respect.  "To the victor go the spoils".

Goldlw2
Goldlw2

I guess my point of view is thinking if someone destroyed something my dad had given me. Since my dad has died... that would tear me up and piss me off to no end.. Maybe I am just looking at it from that, but when a parent gives you something, you treasure it.

Goldlw2
Goldlw2

If someone shredded Puig's suit like that, then that would be a huge problem. I would be pissed if anyone destroyed something of mine and didn't replace it. I would be the crap out of them. If I was puig, I would have just not done anything until they got him one. 


The other stuff is ehh, but actually destroying something that belongs to someone is off limits.

lumpy701
lumpy701

Give me an f**king break.  Personality conflicts are not bullying.  Trying to shape up a jerk by peer pressure is not bullying.  Not sure I ever had a whole lot of respect for JP Howell, but whatever I had is reduced to zero.

muser
muser

I want the Dodgers to buy me a Porsche. They won't. I feel bullied. 

EnashWaca
EnashWaca

Incognito needs to toughen this guy up

x72
x72

Rumor is Kershaw gave him a swirlie.

BertJones
BertJones

peer pressure and bullying are NOT the same thing

nsbanks43
nsbanks43

So Howell uses the media to bully Kennedy?   

teds61
teds61

What a tool, if anyone had tried to bully Puig I'm pretty damn sure that person would have been eating corn on the cob with no f^&*ing teeth. Slow day for a washed up ballplayer?

beast
beast

We have our own problems. We don't have time to worry about every coward who gets "bullied". 

Right now guys are getting bent over in prison. If you want a bullying cause go worry about them. Not these overpaid punks who are too gutless to be a man. 

NoThanksESPNFacebook
NoThanksESPNFacebook

Well obviously there is next to no info but at least Howell put his name out there and it wasn't another one of these anonymous source type things. I don't know about any bullying but watching Dodger games the last month of the season and into the playoffs I noticed Matt Kemp would not only not give Puig a Hi-five or say good job after a HR or score but he would not even look at him. This wasn't just a one time thing either. He would make it a point to not look in Puig's direction. Other guys who scored got recognized so there was obviously some kind of freeze out going on. 


Maybe Puig's attitude just rubbed some of the team the wrong way and they put up with it for the sake of the team but held resentment the rest of the time. I mean even Howell in this story said Puig was a jerk but tried to stick up for him. So is it a case of a guy being bullied or a guy acting like a tool and teamates put him in his place before he got too big of a head?

serveaux
serveaux

@OP3366 What do we need to discuss? These are ADULTS, not 8 year old children. This bullying crap has gone too far and everyone needs to toughen up. Protect your kids, but we can stop coddling the grown-ups making millions of dollars to play a game.  The only reason any of this even has legs is because of social media. This would not be news 10 years ago. 

Chavez Ravine
Chavez Ravine

@JoseAbreo  

You mean how Derek Jeter struggled in the World Series his rookie year?  Batted all of .250 with 6 strikeouts in 20 at bats.

 Or how Pedroia batted .238 all of this post-season?

Evan Longoria and his .176 average?  

David Freese at .179

Oh no, a player struggled in the playoffs facing ace after ace!!!!!!!   A rookie player at that!

EasyGoer
EasyGoer

I agree with him completely. Your reasoning is severely flawed. He said you COULD be going to a funeral. It's happened a few times but only once at the major league level, where someone has been hit in the head by a pitch or throw, and has died. For real insight into what he means, go stand in the batters box and let one of your friends, who probably can't throw faster than 60 mph anyway, throw a few pitches at your head and see how you feel. Even at that relatively slow speed you COULD be killed.

OP3366
OP3366

@eddie767 You cannot be serious.  This is not the type of comment a player wants to be in the press for.  

Earthling1
Earthling1

@eddie767 People who are abused often wait a while before saying anything, or never do at all. They're afraid to be seen as weak or accused of exaggeration.

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

@gymviking You realize that size and physical presence have no bearing on mental makeup, right? Look at a guy like Jonathan Martin - a huge beast of a man. Yet, he was bullied. How big you are and how strong you are don't matter in the mental realm. 

OP3366
OP3366

@Bazelope Wow.  You serious?  Being gay doesn't make you a pansy or a lady.  Whatever the actual percentage of gays in our society is likely mirrored in the locker rooms.  There are gay guys who can carry a piano on their back, splatter a quarterback, and smash 40 homeruns.  Then there are (presumably) straights who can write cliches under a psuedonym on some website.

MarvinNRuthEaves
MarvinNRuthEaves

@Bazelope The other extreme is to kill the bully.  Don't think society accepts that so well.  Suppose administrative controls may be in order.

Goldlw2
Goldlw2

ok, when I said done nothing, I mean I would have not played.

ThomasHanson
ThomasHanson

@lumpy701 You're an idiot. Go raise some sh!t kids who think it's cool to bully other kids. You're probably some high school hero, college zero.

OP3366
OP3366

@EnashWaca Incognito neds to have all the NFL players who voted him dirtiest player in the sport just a few years ago take him into a room hand have a little chit-chat about proper behavior.

ThomasHanson
ThomasHanson

@BertJones Shredding someone's suit, a gift from his father, is not peer pressure. That's intimidation and bullying.

Chuck21
Chuck21

@beast  Great point!   Spoken like a true Neanderthal.

Chuck21
Chuck21

@beast Great point!   Spoken like a true Neanderthal.

life_is_a_sport
life_is_a_sport

@NoThanksESPNFacebook From the second Puig went on his run, Matt Kemp seemed very jealous of Puig's attention. Kemp thought he was the only show in LA. With that said, Puig's antics would piss me off if I were a teammate. Puig seriously cost the Dodgers a couple games by trying to grandstanding or trying to make highlight reel plays rather than sensible ones.


And yes, Facebook pushed me off ESPN boards too.

OP3366
OP3366

@EasyGoer Agreed.  And let's not forget players like Tony Conigliaro who had their eyesight ruined because of a beaning.  Its assault with a weapon in the hands of a pitcher.  What happens if a professional boxer punches you in the street?  He can be arrested for a ssault with weapon.

MikeKing
MikeKing

@Earthling1 @eddie767 JP was not the one being abused this summer according to him it was Puig.  So he sat there and watched and did not say a word.  

muser
muser

@ThomasHanson Those who have no respect for other's viewpoints always seem to be the most demanding of acceptance of their own. Show a little class and maturity Tommy Boy.