The San Francisco Giants are going through an experimental stage. Sure, this sounds about as decent as a Carolina Reaper enema, since the team is swimming around in the bottom of the NL West. Meanwhile, the front office fights to put out randomly sprouting media flames with a Paw Patrol water rescuer. But for fans squinting to see that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel (the ones who don’t suspect that the light is actually just a speeding oncoming train, anyway) the joy is found in witnessing the progressions of the players.
Especially when they’re making history.
During their May 6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, infielder Pablo Sandoval was called in to pitch at the bottom of the eighth. And this was AFTER he hit a home run and stole a base. Of course, the team had their godforsaken rears handed to them during that game but that’s not what fans and the history books are going to remember. Pablo! Panda! That guy!
Sure, the big guy gave up a hit but he also managed to get a double play which enabled him to strut out of the inning in one piece.
“It was fun,” Sandoval told reporters following the game. “It was a tough loss. Whatever I can do to help this team. I’m going to be a man. I’m going to take a punch and sacrifice everything to help the bullpen to rest one more day.”
But the Panda has been doing more than helping out the Giants’ “WTF” bullpen, he’s giving something that resembles hope to hopeless fans who have still been on the fence about Sandoval since his return to the city by the bay. Even though it feels like a billion and six years ago, some fans still remember Pablo’s exit when he left the Giants following their third World Series win in a span of five years in 2014. They still remember the look on his face during the parade as he waved to fans, the expression on his face rightfully discombobulating everyone he waved to.
Days later, he signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. Apparently, that DH position looked like a dream. To the Red Sox, his tenure in Boston was like a paper cut on the nipple in the middle of a snowstorm, and Pablo eventually found his way back to San Francisco in 2017.
Since then, a renascent Sandoval has been on a makeup tour as fans once again started reluctantly donning those famous panda hats that flooded the walkways of Oracle Park.
And now thanks to his so-far impressive and versatile performance in this crapshoot of a season, his trade value has gone up. Woohoo! Yay! Let’s get a taste of scorching hot panda before he’s (again) ripped from our bloody grasp. Allow us to ogle his opposite end of the field homers that are like sweet Skittles for the eyes and then yank him away.
So far this season, Pablo is batting .282 with five home runs and 14 RBI which makes him a desirable candidate for the American League and that DH position he so coveted back in 2014 when he seemed tired of throwing his body around defensively at third base. Though what the Giants would get in return most likely wouldn’t be worth giving up the still agile Sandoval.
Yeah, I said it.
Sandoval is like that ex-boyfriend we took back after a few 3 a.m. weeping drunken text messages who somehow managed to make us believe that old “absence makes the heart grow fonder” cliché. And, you know what? It actually doggone worked. When he nails that homer, we suddenly forget the past and the fact that he swings at anything like he’s in a battle to murder some invisible wasps pestering him at the plate. When he pitches and gets out of the inning unscathed, we marvel at his mirth and forget he once gave us the finger in favor of an east coast happy hour.
Listen, this season has been a cluster-f, 32 car pileup on the Bay Bridge during rush hour so allow us to just appreciate the pure joy of the man who once shattered our hearts returning to pick up the pieces and chaotically glue them back together.