Pablo Sandoval, unlikely lightning rod

Whoops, don't know how this picture of Eugenio Velez got ... wait a sec ... - Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For some players, there would be an urge to stick around and be a part of the franchise that incubated them. I'm not so sure that's the case with Pablo.

Drew Fairservice took a look at Pablo Sandoval over at Getting Blanked. It turns out that Pablo is a free agent after the season -- jeez, Giants, should probably get on that -- and that his new physique and renewed vigor are probably going to make him a bazillionaire. Considering his age and the paucity of next year's free-agent market, I could see Sandoval getting a Shin-Soo Choo deal, if not a Jacoby Ellsbury. You were not expecting those numbers last year.

These two passages stuck out, though:

Sandoval has always been a divisive figure among Giants fans.

And ...

Maybe he didn’t deliver as much as he should and maybe he frustrated fans through his five years by the Bay but the results speak very, very loudly. Loud enough to drown out even the most determined complaints.

They took me aback because I don't remember a whole of dammit-Pablo posts here, even when his struggles were at their most maddening. Here's what I think of when I think of Pablo Sandoval: first hitter developed by the Giants since Matt Williams to make an All-Star team, third baseman for two different championship teams. People who get mad at that are the people who get mad that there are only three It's Its in a box. Rejoice in the three you have, dammit.

Except, this isn't exactly a cross-section of typical Giants fans, here. If you're reading this, you're ...

... lean in, just a little closer ...

... better than other people. You have dug through the back yard of the Internet, and you have found yourself amongst erudite, learned Giants fans. This is a high-brow site.

Cain-again_medium

Quite high-brow. So I don't think the Pablo-distaste trickled down this far. He's had his issues, but he's almost always been a worthwhile player. Save your disgust for the players who aren't helping the Giants win.

Except, that anti-Pablo sentiment exists. There's a strong undercurrent of ... what, anger? Disappointment? Nothing gets people madder than when players "waste" their gifts, whether through the bottle or bottomless bucket of wings. It's a naïve to pretend people have complete control over their self-destructive habits, but apparently "context" and "empathy" weren't things that helped monkeys make sweet monkey love, so here we are.

Lincecum gets almost-unconditional love because his fastball left him for a younger pitcher. Cain gets unconditional love because he's Matt Cain. Buster Posey gets unconditional love because he's the greatest living American. Pablo gets tough love, and now there's a weird bitterness about him finally getting in shape before his walk year.

The point isn't to make fun of the people who are less than pleased with Pablo's Giants career. But, wait, take a second to do that right now.

...

The point isn't to make fun of the people who are less than pleased with Pablo's Giants career. The point is to wonder how this affects Pablo's desire to stay with the Giants for his entire career. The idea of the hometown discount is kind of a myth, but I think there's a strong urge for players to stick around with a franchise once they've become the face of it. As in, while it obviously wasn't enough to keep Robinson Cano with the Yankees or Albert Pujols with the Cardinals, I'll bet they were more than a little sad to move on.

I don't think Sandoval would be that sad. I don't think he was slathered with the warm fuzzies he should have been slathered with, and there's probably a part of him that's excited for a fresh start. If the Giants want to keep him, they'll have to do so at the market rate.

I'm for that market-rate contract. But if he signs it, look out. The weird disappointed-with-Pablo contingent will be loud. They will have numbers. It will be obnoxious.

But at least we'll have Pablo Sandoval. Looking forward to a big year from him, even if it could be bittersweet.

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