San Francisco Giants and Pablo Sandoval: Panda-Gate


When the San Francisco Giants and Pablo Sandoval parted ways over the off-season, there was much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Now, in light of the recent commentary by the player formerly known as Kung-Fu Panda, the perspective of Giants fans has shifted from unhappiness to relief.

What was once a topic of great fascination, has spiraled downward into the sordid and even tawdry, as we are informed in as detached a manner possible, by Sandoval himself, of some pertinent data. First, he had already made his decision to leave the San Francisco Giants, eleven months ago, when preliminary negotiations for a long-term contract renewal broke down.

At the time the offer, three years at $40 million, was deemed pretty innocuous by all because it was clearly understood that the charismatic Venezuelan player would net considerably more than a paltry fifteen mil per season (The original qualifying offer was for $15.3 million). This was merely the opening salvo but there was more to the story.

The second component related to the infamously referenced (though unexplained) “lack of respect” comment that has rankled Giants management, team and fans alike. The question has always been, who on earth ever dissed on the Panda?

Oct 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) holds up a panda costume head during the World Series victory parade on Market Street. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Now Sandoval tells us that the disrespect occurred when Brian Sabean and Sandoval’s agent engaged in those aforementioned preliminary negotiations, which produced such an inadequate result.

With so much discussion about respect, one wonders if there are no mirrors in the Sandoval abode…

So what now emerges is an image of a business-like, experienced GM, sallying forth to hammer out the details of extending the contract of a popular Giant, and encountering an individual who has little experience in these matters and thin skin to boot.

As Duane Kuiper editorialized, no one had an issue with Sandoval choosing to leave, but it’s not OK for him to criticize Sabes for doing his job. Doing so shifts the onus of responsibility for the whole mess off of Sandoval and onto Sabean. That is decidedly not all right.

To expect a seasoned veteran of Sabean’s caliber, to kowtow to Sandoval’s agent in some obsequious manner, is ridiculous. If it’s too hot in the kitchen, don’t let the screen door hit you in the backside on your way out.

Thirdly, for Sandoval to allow the whole charade of the “negotiations” to take place, when he had already determined he was not returning to San Francisco, simply makes him look like a jerk. Sandoval’s actions show a lack of class and expose him to be the petulant, whiny individual that he is.

Why? What was the point of revealing this information? This is the fourth reason why Sandoval’s actions are so base. It wasn’t enough that he put Giants management and fans through the whole Dawg and Panda Show last November, he had to rub it in. He had to not only get the last word in, he used an icepick to get the job done.

Sandoval dissed on his teammates, indirectly if you will, by saying that besides Bruce Bochy, whom he thought of as a father-figure, the only player he would miss was Hunter Pence. Even if it were true, why would he say that?

Sep 17, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence pats on a teammates head in the dugout during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Is he trying to puncture the image of a chemistry-fueled team, which has made it a habit of overcoming insurmountable odds to win World Series rings at an unprecedented National League pace? Good luck with that. If anything, the just-revealed snarky side of Sandoval, makes the Giants players appear that much more cohesive.

Where is their backlash? I can clearly envision the pained expression on Buster Posey’s face, while nothing registers on Madison Bumgarner’s features. Nothing, whatsoever. This too shall pass, they all seem to intone.

Also, this latest revelation on Sandoval’s part, has had its effect on his beloved fan base. In a poll conducted here, Around the Foghorn’s Erik Catalan determined that 45% (39/87) of the votes cast, indicated that Sandoval “is gone and not a moment too soon.”

25% (22 votes) went with “can’t be replaced, but I’m behind Casey McGehee; 23% went with “Who?” and “will be missed. I’ll always be a fan” (6%, 7 votes).

In the latest episode of “As the Panda Turns” winds down, I suppose a title is in order. I suggest, “Panda-Gate.”

Like many, I am glad it got left open.