Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Venezuelan star, cartoon character, or World Series MVP? Why can't he be ‘All of the Above’

Pablo Sandoval had the week of his lifetime – one that likely will be the focal point of his obituary on that day far in the future (he hopes) when it is written.

Sandoval is a Venezuela native who is among the many Latin American athletes playing baseball professionally – third base with the San Francisco Giants, to be exact.

HE’S ALSO THE World Series MVP – one whose renown was noted back in his home country. President Hugo Chavez, who usually bashes anything connected to the United States, pointed out Sandoval’s great play this week, which included a single game that put him in the history books with a batch of other ballplayers who are in, or likely will be, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

That one game included the first game of the World Series when he managed to hit three home runs. Only Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols have ever managed to do that in a World Series game.

Ethnic pride seems to overcome distaste for “Yankee imperialism” (not the New York Yankees), particularly when Chavez is wasting away his time on a Twitter account.

I don’t know that Sandoval is Cooperstown-bound (although his bat from that game was requested by the baseball museum that is a part of the Hall of Fame). But he did give an overall performance that also will not be forgotten.

HIS BAT WAS a big part of the reason why the Giants managed a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Eight hits in 16 at-bats. He got hot at the right moment (unlike several New York Yankees players who suddenly got cold during the four playoff games they played against the American League champion Tigers).

Yet this is the man who gets dubbed the “Kung Fu Panda.” Or, the “Panda,” for short.

That’s the nickname he carries within professional baseball. It seems his 240-pound weight gives him a physique that his teammates think makes him resemble the lead animal character from the animated feature “Kung Fu Panda.”

Not exactly the most complimentary of images, although it seems less mean-spirited than some of the comments that have come from Giants manager Bruce Bochy about Sandoval’s weight.

SOMEHOW, I SUSPECT the people at DreamWorks (who gave us the film) will get a kick out of baseball’s take on “Pandamonium” and hope it might bolster DVD sales and downloads of the cartoon.

And for at least a week, that “Panda” was the most dangerous hitter in all of baseball – a large part of the reason why the World Series is over (and not preparing for Game Six Wednesday night in San  Francisco).

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