Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Pablo Sandoval Can't Take With Him....

MLB Fans couldn't help but take notice of "The Panda" on and off the field
We've heard it before: you can't take it with you. Typically, this pertains to money or material possessions in the afterlife. In this instance, however, I'm referring to something different. Something you can't put a price tag on. Something so special it only comes about every great once in a while...and that's a nickname. And for Pablo Sandoval, who signed an 5-year deal for $100 million with the Boston Red Sox, again, I'm not talking about more money than I can possibly imagine, I'm talking about being "the Panda." 

This playful moniker was coined by the "Spiritual Southpaw" Barry Zito. A friend and I once joked that if it hadn't been for the #RallyZito game, the only way "Z "would have earned any part of his 7-year $126-million dollar contract was for the simple fact that christened Sandoval as the "Kung Fun Panda." Teammates took notice that the 285-pound Venezuelan in his off white and black uniform looked the part. His playful spirit confirmed it and a marketing team in San Francisco ran with it. 

He was our Panda; our hot corner. His weight was never small, both literally and metaphorically. People look to Hunter Pence as the team's spiritual leader, but Panda did this in his own right. The 2012 World Series MVP, he hit .366 in this years Series. And one of my favorite images from the 7-game series features the Panda in the face of second baseman Joe Panik in the dugout having a few words "mono y mono." Perhaps he was telling the rookie that the double play he just turned was the best play many of us have ever seen. Maybe it was just "gracias."

Buster Olney reports that the Giants are hoping to sign left handed pitcher, Jon Lester. I'm trying to remain optimistic about the big picture and what the Giants will look like in the 2015 season, but it's hard to deny it. I will miss the Panda. The hot corner feels cold today.

At the World Series parade in 2012, each player rode in their own convertible down Market Street. As the MVP, as the player who hit 3 home runs in a single game, it was no surprise that the Panda would hold the trophy and be the "final out" of the parade. His driver, Lee Hammer told listeners on KNBR that the Panda kept repeating three words throughout the day: "No Lo Creo," I don't believe it. Overwhelmed by the love of fans, the elation in the air and the joy of the moment in the most unique and vibrant city in the US, something like that is hard to believe. And yet, part of me feels like that today.
No Lo Creo
Today, we woke up to see the Panda's first words as Boston Red Sox. On Instagram, he tweeted out a photo for Hanley Ramirez. He wants to know "Are you coming?" (side note, I hope Ramirez is going to Boston. I want him out of the NL and away from the Dodgers). If he does, I hope he knows dear Pablito, that his teammate is in search of a new name. 

You changed this team in San Francisco. You made it great. Not one, not two but three World Series were made possible because of your efforts. We cherish those titles and trophies; we cherish the memories. Boston will give you a new opportunity, new teammates and you will learn from new leadership, but it won't gave you what we did. You became great in SF, you became a WS Champion. You became "The Panda." Gracias....and Lo Viste (tambien).

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