Richard Justice wrote an illuminating piece on the San Francisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval, Tuesday, highlighting the reasons why the Panda is apt to be successful in either venue he chooses, Boston or San Francisco, choosing to ignore for the moment, the fact that there are three other teams involved in the sweepstakes. Justice reinforces his argument with logic and persuasiveness, but includes in his reasoning one significant fact, innocent enough at face value, that I think belies his conclusion, and instead tilts the debate in favor of San Francisco.
Justice’s premise is that Sandoval will thrive in either location because of all the usual reasons: financial security, both great baseball cities, opportunity to be a cornerstone of either franchise, and great personnel in both venues. Justice goes on to add, though, that the Panda really ought to consider one element of his decision, before he signs on the dotted line, and that would be the degree to which San Francisco Giants fans idolize him.
Having personally signed, sealed and delivered the 2012 World Series to San Francisco, The Panda went on to play a huge role in the just-completed triumph over the Kansas City Royals. Like another current Giant, Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval can do no wrong, and his fans love him accordingly.
The original Timmy Lincecum.
That means that when he actually does do something “wrong,” like start off a season in a batting funk, the home town fans do not get on his back; instead they wait it out, because San Francisco Giants fans know that the results will be worth the wait.
Can Sandoval rationally draw the same conclusion about the fans of Boston?
How can The Panda know for certain how the fans of Boston will respond to him? Answer: He can’t.
After all, how welcoming ofCarlos Beltran
were San Francisco Giants fans when Beltran came on board for a short time during the 2011 season, trying to pin up the undercarriage of the Giants’ chassis, afterBuster Posey
went down to a season-ending injury? The same fans who idolize the Panda now?
Are East Coast fans any different?
They pay big bucks these days to take in a ballgame, including food, tickets, some more munchies, parking, beer, a late-game snack, perhaps, and gasoline-round trip-enough right there to break the bank. Bottom line: Fans want their hard-earned money’s worth, and they want it in the form of offensive fireworks.
If the fuse sputters on an expected skyrocket, while fans wait, coaches scurry around, scratching their heads, and the missile continues to sit on the launch-pad, tensions are likely to mount. Next thing you know, tempers rise, pressure increases, and unhappiness abounds. It’s enough to stifle the smile of even an effervescent Panda.
No, Pablo Sandoval needs San Francisco, just as the City by the Bay needs their Panda, and I hope he and his trainers figure that out real soon. Otherwise, you know what they say about caging wild critters when they don’t want to be penned up, how they sit around and mope all day.
Who wants to see that happen to The Panda?