Take Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants. He arrived on the scene in late 2008 and lit up NL pitching for a .345 batting average (145 at bats.) In 2009, his first full year, this was his line:
.330 AVG., 25 HR, 90 RBI, .387 OBP
Those kind of stats scream "STUD," "ALL STAR," or any other positive label you'd like to put on it.
The Giants began the 2009-2010 off season by doing two things:
1) Making their effort to get good ol' Kung Fu Panda's weight down a public thing (it was called "Camp Panda.")
2) And more than likely ordering one million of those dumb Panda hats that people wear at Giants games (I have no facts to back that up, but I suspect it could've been one million white ones and one million orange ones.)
The problem with all of this? Well, for one, Panda came into came heavier than he was at the end of last year. Item #1 = FAIL.
Item #2 is fine except for the fact that Sandoval is not good anymore. His stat line is dramatically down this year:
.263 AVG., 12 HR, 60 RBI, and his OBP. is lower than his 2009 AVG. at .318
This is a middle of the road baseball player. Not a stud that you base silly year long hat promotions around. Those stats don't even tell the whole story.
Yesterday, I was listening to the game on the radio. In fact, I had it on the Razor & Mr. T. and their show had some "bonus coverage" of the game. Mr. T. (Tom Tolbert) was explaining that Jose Guillen had just led off the inning with a double. He predicted that Sandoval (who was up next) would not hit the ball to the right side to at least move the runner over and put a man on 3rd base with 1 out.
Surprise, surprise. This is from the CBSSports.com Full Play By Play editorial:
|Randy Wells pitching:|
|Jose Guillen :||Strike looking, Ball, Guillen doubled to deep right.|
|Pablo Sandoval :||Strike swinging, Ball, Strike swinging, Sandoval grounded out to shortstop.|
|Juan Uribe :||Ball, Uribe flied out to deep center, Guillen to third.|
|Jonathan Sanchez :||Sanchez flied out to deep center.|
|End of Inning (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)|
You might notice that Sandoval grounded out to the shortstop. No productive outs here. Tolbert mentioned that during Panda's at bat, he didn't look like he had any kind of a plan. For instance, that first strike swinging (on the first pitch) was an outside fastball geared to get him to hit the ball toward Short or Third. He didn't even think about taking the pitch and looking for something on the inside portion of the plate that he could pull (he was batting left handed during this at bat.) Even further, Uribe would have hit Guillen in with a sac fly had Sandoval moved Guillen from 2nd to 3rd.
I have a feeling the Giants are going to have to discontinue the production of Panda hats for next year. Yeah, they are cute. Sure, you can win a bet with a friend and make him buy one, wear it all day, and look stupid. And of course, fans should support their players. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Panda got awfully complacent after his fantastic 2009 season and he's not actually giving the team or the fans his best effort. That is something that fans should never get behind.
Hopefully he can right the ship next year (rather than having Sandoval's ass be the actual size of a ship.) I mean, at some point he's going to have to play for a big contract, right? If nothing else, maybe money can motivate him. Until then, here are some other promotions that are awful, but better than Panda hats:
The Aubrey Huff Huffy - Painted orange and black, this Huffy bicycle will not let you down- even as it gets older.
The Andres Torres Appendix - Similar to the chickens they used to hang in the ball park after intentional pass to Barry Bonds, except they would be little appendixes that you hang up any time Torres does something awesome. Unfortunately you might have to wait until next year for him to get back in the game.
The Aaron Rowand "Break Your Face" Food Promotion - Get any local restaurant to have a promotion for the rest of Rowand's contract- if he runs into the outfield wall and breaks his face leading to a DL stint, everyone with a ticket stub from that game gets a free burger, or pizza, or whatever. It's about the entertainment, and getting Rowand on the DL. Man, I have a feeling Giants fans would do just about anything to trade Torres for Rowand right now.
Rename Madison Baumgarner Night - This guy is the real deal. He's going to be an ace for the Giants for years to come. But what guy is named Madison? Hell, it might be better to start calling him "Buster" so then you can have the only pitcher/catcher battery mates ever to both be called "Buster." Your suggestions are welcome in the comments.
Jonathan "Dirty" Sanchez Night - Not to be confused with Freddy "Dirty" Sanchez Night- basically everyone goes to the park and gets a- I should probably stop this one before I get in too deep.
Brian Wilson "Say Crazy Things" Night - They can run a co-promotion to give a discount to anyone with Torrette's as well. Pretty much, you'd just make sure that everyone in the stadium was saying crazy-ass stuff during the whole game. Yelling or talking, whatever your comfort level is.
Feel free to come up with your own promotions- they are guaranteed to be better than anything related to "The Panda" at this point. I really hope he turns it around and helps the Giants make the playoffs. It would be nice to have some interest in the upcoming Post Season.