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The Pablo Problem

September 13, 2012

The Giants are seven games up with 19 to play. The Dodgers are exploding like a bloated yak carcass, only messier. The starting pitching, of all things, has been a tad shaky, but overall there ain’t much to complain about in Giants land.

Except Pablo. Pablo, Pablo, Pablo.

Here’s what I wrote about Sandoval before the season:

I’m thinking this is the year he puts it all together, stays healthy and establishes himself as one of the NL’s elite hitters. Call it the over-exuberance of spring, call it swallowing the weight-loss-and-LASIK-surgery Kool-Aid, call it the fever dream of a guy who is really, really tired of watching 2-1 losses, but damn it, you heard it here first: 2012 will be the Year of the Panda.

In May I was feeling pretty smug. Then there was the hamate bone and the rape accusation and the hamstring and, well, here we are. The power is gone. The hacking continues, though even when he takes pitches he still isn’t making a lot of loud contact. He’s a slap hitter with no speed. Put another way: there is a legitimate argument that Joaquin Arias helps this team more than Pablo Sandoval. Year of the Panda, indeed.

What’s going on? I’ve always been skeptical of the weight thesis. Sure, over the course of a career it’s better to be in shape. But I’ve noticed no one ever says Pablo looks fat while he’s doing a home run trot. Would it be good if he shed a few? Of course. That can’t be the whole explanation, though.

Probably it’s also the time he’s missed, the injuries and the fact that his swing first, ask questions later offensive approach tends to make the hot streaks hotter and the slumps slumpier.

Will he snap out of it in time for the playoffs that I know we’re totally not supposed to talk about yet? Hope so. It’s cute to point out that the last time Pablo looked this bad the Giants won the World Series but, um, that kind of sounds like a correlation/causation thing. I’d love to see a postseason with a happy Panda.

Bochy gave him a day off before the off-day, and there’s talk he might sit Friday, too. Fine. But down the stretch you’ve got to dance with the girl who brung you — even if she turns out to be a fatty.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2012 1:19 pm

    I think this might be my favorite post you’ve ever written so far. Well said, Shafer! 🙂

  2. ernie sandwich permalink
    September 13, 2012 5:15 pm

    flabo must sit.

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