are reporting this morning
that Pablo "Kung-Fu Panda" Sandoval, the San Francisco Giants third baseman and inspiration for scads of Panda-related merchandise, has agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox.
The loss of Sandoval, a bad-ball hitting savant with as much pitch selection as he had dietary restraint, sparks a battle between fans' hearts and minds. On the rational side, Sandoval's regular-season
statistics aren't transcendent (coolly systematic devotees of on-base percentage were left shaking their heads), he's no longer a young player, he has a career-long weight problem — in short, he seems destined to be a big-market designated hitter.
On the other hand, no sport marries the rational and irrational like baseball. Fans continued to love and support Sandoval even while coolly rational stat-heads were shaking their heads. Whether or not "clutch" play — coming up when the team needs it most — really exists
is actually a matter of scientific debate
. But statistics don't lie: When the Giants needed Sandoval most, he produced
. More than that, however, fans loved this player because he was lovable. He was a remarkably deft yet roly poly mound among the chiseled athletes, a ball of positive energy, a man who looked, at all times, like he was having a hell of a time.
During the team's third World Series parade in five seasons, your humble narrator watched Sandoval work the crowd and dubbed him
the team's Peter Venkman, the Bill Murray character in Ghostbusters
It's hard not to root for a man like that. They will, in all likelihood, love him in Boston.