August 22, 2011
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Just in case you forgot to do so in the giddy aftermath of Sunday's game-winning homer, now would be a really good time to step back from the ledge and appreciate everything that Pablo Sandoval means to your 2011 Giants.As desperately as it was needed, the home run was almost beside the point. The point is that he was standing in the batter's box at all.In the 11th inning. Having previously been in the same box, batting left-handed against left-handed pitching -- more or less an out waiting to happen.Why would he put himself in such a position? Because he senses the desperation of the situation, and because he desperately wants to be part of the solution.RECAP: Sandoval to the rescue, Giants avoid sweep
It's called leadership, and it's a part of Sandoval's game that we've never really seen before. Now we're not only seeing it, but we're seeing it in its most pure form.We know all about Sandoval's personality and how it filters through the clubhouse. He's a big kid. He's almost always "up." His enthusiasm, energy and joy are infectious. You take one look at the guy and feel better about your place in the world. He'll smile at you. He'll tease you. He'll make up a handshake for you. That kind of thing matters in baseball. It might not sound like much, but it is. Baseball is an absolute grind, and anything that lightens the mood and reminds its professional practitioners -- especially at this time of year -- that it is a child's game and extremely fun and lucrative to play at this level is a highly welcome respite.But having a sunny disposition only goes so far. Attitude probably ranks third on the list of sports needs. At the root, any athletic endeavor is about performance first and foremost, with guts a close second. Fortunately for the Giants, Sandoval is killing it on all three fronts.RELATED: Pablo Sandoval stats
Sunday's homer served as a nice little bow to the package, but the bow was just a bow -- an impressive visual. The package has been there all along, and it's loomed larger than ever in the past week.The foot injury he suffered last Monday night alone could have shelved him for the rest of the week. Nuh, uh. Too many people on that shelf already, he decided. His team needed him. He played -- demanded to play -- the next day.
Then the shoulder started barking, limiting him to one-side swinging. Missed one game. (You reading this, Mr. Beltran?)
Two games later, Sandoval wins one with an extra-innings homer, records the final out of the game on defense and makes a bee-line for the trainers' room so he can strap it on and try to do it all over again Tuesday, Wednesday and for the rest of what remains of his scuffling team's season-gone-wrong.That's performance. That's guts. And that's why when the Giants gather 'round to vote on the Willie Mac Award next month, they'd better vote for Pablo.