Here is an early link to my Tuesday column about Pablo Sandoval. The full text runs below:
Pablo Sandoval may be a jerk. Oh, let’s not pussyfoot around. He is a jerk.
His jerkiness has nothing to do with the Panda. The Panda is a fun-loving, gracious, wonderful person Giants fans took to their hearts. The fans knew the Panda. The fans didn’t know Sandoval. They are getting to know him.
Sandoval and the Panda are opposites.
You probably know the background. Sandoval said, in the entire Giants’ family, he misses only two people, Bruce Bochy and Hunter Pence. That leaves a bunch of omissions. Like Gregor Blanco who always had Sandoval’s back, who massaged Sandoval’s ego when it needed massaging. A lot. Like Brandon Crawford who played next to Sandoval for years. Like Tim Lincecum, a nice guy.
If Sandoval barely made friends on the Giants in seven years, you wonder about his ability to make friends. One thing you know. He never should have bashed the Giants by saying he had just two friends. You have a crummy thing like that to say, you keep it to yourself. You howl it to the moon. You write it in a letter and then light the letter on fire.
You sure don’t burn your bridges or show people how bitter and small-minded you truly are. You use wisdom and tact. You have the brains to just shut up.
Remember, I’m talking about Sandoval. I’m not talking about the Panda.
The Panda was friends with everyone on the team. The players loved him. Loved his winning smile and his broad laugh. Brandon Belt invited Panda to his house every night for dinner. Brian Sabean treated him like his own son. The Panda is the nicest man who ever lived. And he has character up the wazoo. Never have we seen such high character.
And the fans were over the moon about Panda. They projected on him the world’s greatest personality. They wore those Panda hats. They saw Panda as they wanted to see him. They saw a fantasy and a fiction.
Now they’re seeing something else. They’re seeing how little we knew about Sandoval — the real Sandoval. I need to add this. We know almost nothing about the players you root for and I cover. Believe me next to nothing. All we know is what they show us. O.J. Simpson was an all-time media favorite.
Now we come to Sandoval’s latest flapdoodle, his feud with former Giant Aubrey Huff. I mean, can this get any better?
Huff criticized Sandoval on Facebook. Took up the cause for current Giants players — players by the way who have not defended Sandoval. Here is Huff’s Facebook entry edited for length and spelling:
“I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a tear shed on behalf of the players and coaches when he signed with Boston. It has always been about Pablo. He had the fans fooled but not the players! One of the biggest reasons he didn’t come back is because the Giants made him work out on the treadmill every day. Pretty sure that was a driving force for him! Nevertheless he could have always been known as a legend in San Francisco but ego will always get in the way when it comes to Pablo. If you can’t get along with guys like (Buster) Posey, (Madison) Bumgarner, (Matt) Cain, (Jeremy) Affeldt, just to name a few, then maybe it’s time to look in the mirror.”
How did Sandoval respond? This is a classic.
“Who is Aubrey Huff?” Sandoval reasoned. “What is important here is to see where the person who made those comments is, and where I am now. That’s what counts.”
Bear with me here. Sandoval used an ad hominem argument. He attacked the person, Huff, not the argument Huff put forward. In Brooklyn I grew up using ad hominem arguments galore. I thought they were the only kind. If I — if anyone — disagreed with some kid over who was better, Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays, we defeated his point of view by slurring his lineage, his mother, even his sexual prowess. You name it.
My first week at Lafayette College in my Introduction to Logic Class, I learned ad hominem arguments don’t work. Are off the point. If someone says, “God doesn’t exist,” you don’t call him a weasel or a bum. You ask for his proof and his reasoning. Got that?
Sandoval was calling Huff a weasel and a bum. He was saying Huff is out of baseball and has no standing to express an opinion. Huff is an assistant baseball coach at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego. He also is a two-time world champion. He also led the Giants in home runs in 2010, when they won their first World Series.
I am not defending Huff’s character. He left the team for a while in 2012 under weird circumstances. He had personal problems. But Huff’s character is entirely beside the point. Did he write the truth on Facebook? No Giants player, as far as I know, contradicted him.
Sandoval went all ad hominem on Huff because Sandoval had no legitimate comeback to what Huff wrote. Sandoval knew his own argument was weak so he attacked the man.
After saying Huff is not entitled to a point of view, Sandoval said, “I’m not selfish. I am where I am because I have worked very hard and have always done my job.”
Finally, he said something relevant. He said he’s not selfish. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it isn’t. He certainly isn’t diplomatic. Or a loyal friend.
He claims he worked hard. Seriously? He sure seemed out of shape. Those times he played third base with a bowling ball bursting out his belly.
So, what did Sandoval accomplish with his crummy putdown of the Giants and his crummy argument with Huff? He showed who he really is. A jerk.
But the Panda is a great guy. I still love him. I know you do, too.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.