March 5, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) hits an RBI single in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
There is a lot of palaver about how deserving the San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence is of his hefty contract, but what ARE we going to do about Pablo Sandoval and his upcoming contractual demands? Is The Panda justified in asking for a comparable salary as that of Pence? Should the Giants invest in this charismatic, positive, beaming presence in its clubhouse? Should they do it now?
That’s a lot of questions so early in the morning, while the clouds in your coffee are still swirling as much as the clouds inside your head, so I’ll slow down, focus on one question, and begin again. Slowly. There are actually two inquiries wrapped up in the same question: Does Pablo warrant the big bucks AND should the Giants pay it?
The answer to the first is emphatically yes! The answer to the second one is, I haven’t got a clue. Maybe you do, but not I. The reason why Pablo is justified in demanding the mega-bucks is because the Giants are in the entertainment business, and The Panda is a master at the art. He didn’t train for it; he doesn’t have to fake it, and he can’t be placed on the Celebrity Disabled List. You can see The Panda’s beaming countenance from many different vantage points in the stadium, especially when the camera swings his way.
October 31, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Tony Bennet sings “I left my heart in San Francisco” in front of the San Francisco Giants team during the World Series victory celebration at City Hall. The Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers in a four-game sweep to win the 2012 World Series. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Pablo Sandoval may not be the face of the Giants’ organization, Buster Posey having been granted that honor (deservingly), but I’m not 100% certain that Pablo is not the face the fans see, when they talk about the Giants. Whereas Buster is reserved, serious and in his game mode most of the time, Pablo is outgoing, bubbly and effervescent. We want Buster in charge of our pitching staff, which is a full-time occupation, so it’s hard to picture him taking it lightly, “Ah, Shucks…ing” it up. Definitively not Posey’s style.
Pablo, on the other hand, is that guy who always keeps his peers off-balance with his humor and his wit. He’s high-fiving everyone in the dugout, including the bat-boy. He’s fun to be around and he keeps things lively. He’s the guy whose finger is on the pulse of the dugout, and he matches the tempo with his charisma. In case you haven’t noticed, people like to identify with his magnetism, his personality, and his optimism. The Panda makes people want to smile.
In order to properly pay homage to The Panda, you need a Panda hat, this one outside of AT&T Park in San Francisco. Hint: These are not handed out for free in front of AT&T Park…©H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
And the funny thing is, if Pablo is injured, the fans still show up in Panda regalia, thereby partly negating the argument that when Sandoval is injured, he is not bringing in the Almighty Buck. This is exactly why he deserves to match paychecks with Hunter Pence.
“Pence played in 162 games last season,” point out many who wish to establish a viable connection in their argument that Pablo does not deserve the same type of contract. They go on to say that the only thing Pablo did last season with that kind of regularity, is eat three substantial meals per day. OK, that’s not fair; I don’t know how many meals Pablo eats per day. It could have been four. These same nay-sayers also remind us that Pablo couldn’t play in 162 games per season if his life depended on it, because he keeps getting injured.
As my friend Janice put it, Pablo’s “not worth that amount [what Pence earns] unless he plays better than Pence, and we all doubt that. Too many injuries…” And in his piece the other morning, “Pablo Sandoval High Contract Demands,” my colleague here at Around the Foghorn, Chris Corbett wrote, “To say the contract that he [Pablo] is looking for is ridiculous would be an understatement.”
My response to those who believe Pence is more durable than Panda, is that they are correct, but it’s immaterial. Pablo’s impact in the show business industry is undeniable; look around in the stands and see all of that Panda Accessorizing going on right in front of the cameras. He is a marketing juggernaut who creates revenue by his presence. Hunter Pence has better stats and has a different dietary approach than Pablo Sandoval, but the two differences have no bearing on the fact that both draw fans into the stands, the same stands that have been sold out for 246 consecutive games. Just saying.
Hunter Pence before the game on 9/29/13. Photo by Denise Walos.
Both athletes are superb at what they do; both are deserving of the big bucks. It’s just a matter of whether the Giants can afford it or not. Because if they decide they can’t afford him, there are plenty of other teams who can. Maybe we should dangle Pablo as trade bait and see what happens. All I have to say is, don’t you think he would look good in Pinstripes? The New York Yankees are only one of many teams, I guarantee you, who will offer Pablo what he is demanding. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed The Panda doesn’t end up in D%*g$r Blue.
September 5, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) goes all out diving sideways for the ball, just as he goes all out in all of his endeavors.