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In Appreciation of Pablo's Play


Lost in the hubbub of clinching the division was Pablo Sandoval's splendiferous play in the fifth inning. If you haven't seen it, or you don't know what I'm talking about, watch the video first. You need the audio the first time:

(Niners talk be here.)

I don't know how close we were to having a different conversation right now. If Pablo's hands were 18 percent sweatier, if the wrong oblivious fan were going for the ball, if ... heck, I don't know. It could have been a lot worse. The celebration could have been muted.

The GIF:

Obviously, the best part is the bubble. Well, the best part is the falling. He sort of blows bubbles all the time. So it was the bubble in conjunction with the falling. But here are two things that I also love. First, Madison Bumgarner's reaction:

Yep. That's perfect. And the umpire's reaction:

He's supposed to be impartial. He's seen it all, anyway, so it's not like he's going to be surprised that often. But this play was so awesome, so surprising, and it was a play fraught -- fraught, I say! -- with danger that turned out okay. It all added up to an umpire who had a little smile when he made the call, as if he were saying, "Wow, that happened, and I got to call it."

It can't be the best play of the year because the polls closed for the season after Gregor Blanco's catch in the perfect game. And in terms of bizarre and impressive, the flip is probably #2. But give me this for one of the top plays of the year, which makes it one of the top plays of the decade by default.

The division title is the story. But I didn't want to forget this play. So good.