Urban: Giants' Panda a true sports hero

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Urban: Giants' Panda a true sports hero

Sept. 15, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

There are certain things we want -- check that; things we need -- from our sports heroes.First and foremost, we need them to perform at the highest of levels. They need to be the cream of the crop, and it needs to be obvious. Statistically and aesthetically.We need to know they genuinely appreciate their station in life, too. The slightest trace of entitlement takes them out of the hero realm, no second chances.
Blow off an autograph request? It better be the request from that 46-year-old troll with a color-coded binder of laminated 8-by-10 glossies. That'll play. Disappoint little Kenny or Kendra, though, and you're a straight-up ass.

We also need our true sports heroes to work hard. Granted, the most gifted of athletes often make the sublime look routine; easy, even. Carlos Gonzalez and Ken Griffey Jr. are among the athletes who've been accused of not busting it because they're so fluid and graceful, their movements so seemingly effortless. But watch any athlete more than a couple of times and you can tell if they're giving it their best effort. Eyes don't lie.And, of course, we need to know that our hero is a good teammate. That's fairly easy to discern, too. All you need to do is look for the reactions that follow a hero-candidate's accomplishments.
If he or she is met with the standard fist bump, high five or pat on the posterior, you're safe to assume it's exactly that: standard. If the greeting is an arms-wide hug, an eyes-wide smile or an out-and-out bum rush, rest assured that the recipient is extremely popular.
It's equally instructive to watch the hero-candidate's reaction to the accomplishments of his or her teammates. The more animated it is, the more you get the sense that it's genuine.The biggie, though, is all about joy. We want our sports heroes to exude it. To make us feel it. To share it with anyone who cares to take an interest. And if nobody happens to be watching, hey, the true sports hero couldn't care less. He or she is so enveloped in that joy that it doesn't matter. It's there to share, sure, but the hero's actions seem to suggest that if nobody else cares to partake, no worries. More joy for me.Five requirements. Five reasons to give affix to that label -- HERO -- reserved for a precious few.In other words, five reasons to love Pablo Sandoval.
And yeah, his remarkable night in Colorado on Thursday was the obvious impetus for this assertion, but the case would be made, and won in a landslide, had he gone 0-for-5.That he reached base in all five trips to the plate -- an intentional walk following the cycle he'd put together before the game was a full six innings old -- merely makes it an easier case to make for the night.Performing at the highest level? Sandoval leads Giants regulars in virtually every offensive stat that means a damn, and he's been so good defensively that people are starting to talk about him as a Gold Glove candidate at third base.Appreciative of his station in life? Ever seen the Panda blow anyone off? He doesn't even blow off the eBay trolls. Every day is Christmas for the guy, and under the tree is a bounty of Big Wheels.Hard-working? Hey, this is a different paragraph at this point last year. But when faced with the first dose of adversity of his fairly charmed athletic life, handed an ultimatum from his bosses about losing the many pounds he found on the side of the big-league road over the previous year and a half, Sandoval literally worked his butt off.
Worked his gut off, too. And his thighs, and his second and third and fourth chins. Good teammate? He's got a special handshake for the bullpen catcher, for crying out loud. His successes are unanimously greeted with enthusiasm in the dugout; did you see Andres Torres waving him into third on his triple Thursday? And he reciprocates like a mad man, as if the success of his teammates is his own -- which, if you think about it, is absolutely the case.As for exuding joy, good lord. Is he ever not smiling? Rarely. And when he smiles, how can you not smile with him? You have to smile with him. His joy is so infectious, otherwise sensible human beings pay to put orange faux fur on their heads. Think about that for a second. Folks drop 20 bones to look silly, just to feel a connection, to feel the joy that Pablo feels.If that's not a hero, nothing is. The Giants and their fans are lucky -- blessed, even -- to have such a character.And the best thing about this character? He's 100 percent real.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' walk-off loss to Braves

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' walk-off loss to Braves

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — For a team with such a poor record, the Giants actually have a decent number of late-inning comebacks on the road. There’s a caveat, however 

Remember the comeback at Citi Field? The Giants lost the next day. Remember the big late rally against at Busch Stadium? The Giants lost the next day.  

It happened once again on Wednesday. A day after blowing it open late to beat the Braves, the Giants lost 5-3 on a Matt Kemp walk-off homer in the 11th. They have dropped 17 of their past 22 games, which is suboptimal. Here are five things to know from a wet and long night in Atlanta … 

—- Jeff Samardzija was mostly sharp, and he needed just 79 pitches to get through seven innings. As always, he paid for the long ball. Matt Adams hit a two-run shot early and Tyler Flowers put one about an inch over the left field wall in the seventh. Flowers’ ball had a hit probability of two percent — TWO! — but it still counted as an insurance run after a replay review confirmed that the ball hit a net behind the wall. 

—- Hunter Pence hit a solo blast in the ninth, his second deficit-clearing homer of the trip. Turns out there’s some juice left in that bat. 

—- Samardzija threw a fastball in the third that clocked in at 97.7 mph. It was his fastest pitch of the season. 

—- Sean Newcomb was as advertised. The left-hander has been a top 100 prospect throughout his professional career, and he gave up just three hits and one run over six innings. In his first three MLB starts, the 24-year-old lefty has allowed just four runs over 18 1/3 innings. 

—- With Eduardo Nuñez still sidelined by hamstring tightness, Aaron Hill got another start at third. He was 0 for 3. He’s hitless in his last 17 at-bats and he has just one hit in his last 26 at-bats.

Giants sign 27 picks from 2017 Draft, including top seven selections

Giants sign 27 picks from 2017 Draft, including top seven selections

A day after several agreements leaked out, the Giants announced that they have signed 27 of their 40 picks in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Deals were struck with nine of their top 10 picks. The only top 10 pick still unsigned is eighth-round pick John Gavin, a left-handed pitcher from Cal State Fullerton, who was just eliminated from the College World Series on Monday.

On Tuesday, Baseball America reported that first-round pick Heliot Ramos had agreed to a slot deal of $3,101,700.

Here are some other reported signing bonuses:

The following is a complete list of the Giants’ 2017 draft selections (Bold indicates player has signed):

Rnd (#) Name Pos School HT WT B/T Birthdate Scout
1 (19) Heliot Ramos CF Leadership Christian Academy 6-2 185 R/R 9/7/99 Junior Roman
2 (58) Jacob González 3B Chaparral High School 6-4 203 R/R 6/26/98 Chuck Hensley
3 (96) Seth Corry LHP Lone Peak High School 6-2 195 L/L 11/3/98 Chuck Hensley
4 (126) Garrett Cave RHP University of Tampa 6-4 200 R/R 7/18/96 Jim Gabella
5 (156) Jason Bahr RHP University of Central Florida 6-4 190 R/R 2/15/95 Jim Gabella
6 (186) Bryce Johnson CF Sam Houston State University 6-2 180 S/R 10/27/95 Todd Thomas
7 (216) Logan Harasta RHP University of Buffalo 6-7 235 R/R 8/29/96 Ray Callari

8 (246) John Gavin LHP Cal State Fullerton 6-6 255 R/L 10/10/95 Brad Cameron
9 (276) Aaron Phillips RHP St. Bonaventure University 6-5 190 R/R 10/11/96 Ray Callari
10 (306) Rob Calabrese C University of Illinois Chicago 6-1 200 R/R 10/3/95 Todd Coryell

11 (336) Doug Still LHP Missouri State 6-2 210 L/L 8/2/95 Daniel Murray
12 (366) Aaron Bond CF San Jacinto College North 6-4 185 L/R 2/16/97 James Mouton
13 (396) Tyler Schimpf RHP Texas 6-5 220 R/R 8/7/95 Todd Thomas
14 (426) Michael Sexton 3B Masters College 6-2 230 L/R 1/4/95 Chuck Fick
15 (456) Orlando Garcia SS Texas Tech University 6-2 195 R/R 12/31/95 Todd Thomas
16 (486) John Russell RHP University of Connecticut 6-3 170 R/R 10/17/95 Mark O’Sullivan

17 (516) Brac Warren RHP Oregon 6-4 235 R/R 2/14/96 Larry Casian
18 (546) Chris Corbett C Rollins College 6-1 195 R/R 7/7/94 James Gabella
19 (576) Frankie Tostado RF Oxnard College 6-3 205 L/L 3/31/98 Chuck Fick
20 (606) Keaton Winn RHP Iowa Western Community College 6-4 210 R/R 2/20/98 Todd Coryell
21 (636) Joshua Baldwin CF Georgia Southern University 6-0 180 L/L 4/9/96 Luke Murton
22 (666) Greg Jacknewitz LHP Xavier University 6-3 210 R/L 6/26/95 Kevin Christman
23 (696) Steve Matheny 3B Washington State 6-1 205 L/R 6/5/96 Larry Casian
24 (726) Nico Giarratano SS University of San Francisco 6-0 190 S/R 12/15/94 Keith Snider
25 (756) Franklin Van Gurp RHP Florida International University 6-1 210 R/R 10/26/95 Jose Alou
26 (786) Kyle McPherson SS James Madison University 5-11 180 R/R 2/9/96 John DiCarlo
27 (816) Matt Brown RHP San Jose State University 6-6 220 R/R 6/12/96 Keith Snider
28 (846) Peter Lannoo RHP Cornell University 6-6 220 R/R 11/13/94 Ray Callari

29 (876) Frank Rubio RHP Florida 6-0 203 R/R 4/23/95 James Gabella
30 (906) Sean Watkins CF Cal State Los Angeles 5-10 190 R/R 11/16/95 Chuck Fick
31 (936) Keenan Bartlett RHP Richmond 6-1 175 R/R 9/27/95 John DiCarlo
32 (966) Blake Rivera RHP Wallace State Community College 6-4 225 R/R 1/9/98 Jeff Wood
33 (996) Peyton Maddux C Virginia Military Institute 6-3 185 R/R 8/1/96 Donnie Suttles
34 (1026) Conner Nurse RHP Ridge Community High School 6-5 210 R/R 7/31/99 James Gabella
35 (1056) Dalton Combs RF Huntington College 6-3 217 L/L 10/29/94 Kevin Christman
36 (1086) Joe Marciano LHP Southern Illinois University of Carbondale 6-5 270 L/L 1/11/95 Todd Coryell
37 (1116) Andy Rohloff RHP University of Central Florida 6-3 195 L/R 7/17/96 James Gabella

38 (1146) Antonio Saldana LHP Joliet Catholic Academy 6-6 225 L/L 7/3/99 Todd Coryell
39 (1176) Brad Dobzanski RHP Delsea Reg High School 6-3 195 R/R 2/12/99 John DiCarlo
40 (1206) Liam Jenkins RHP Wabash Valley College 6-8 245 R/R 4/9/97 Todd Coryell