Kung Fu Fit

The Giants have quite a season to look forward to. As we all know, a championship repeat is near impossible in professional sports today. Too much changes from year to year. Teams lose guys to free agency, owners shuffle players to manage their budgets. Brian Sabean and Co. have done a great job of keeping our championship squad together. But it’s going to take much more than just having the same 9 guys on the field.

Luckily for us, we have guys on our squad like Pablo Sandoval. You may know him simply as “Kung Fu Panda”, or just Panda for short. We’ve all noticed that over the last 2 seasons, he’s put on a few (on top of what he already had). I was always amazed at how fast he could move for a guy of his stature. When he was slumping early last season, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking he needed to hit the gym. And after this season ended, even Bochy publicly spoke about his need to shed a few pounds last November. “He’s got to take responsibility for losing weight and getting in the condition he needs to be in,” Bochy said. “I don’t know what else our training staff could have done. We had his food brought to him. We educated Pablo and his family, but at some point you’ve got to do it yourself. He knows that now.” So what did Panda do? Exactly what he needed. And then some.

The Kung Fu Panda could now be known as the “Svelte Ninja Panda”, although that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue with the same gusto. He stepped up to the plate, and into the gym, losing a grand total of 38 pounds in just 3 months. His body fat percentage went from 30, to an impressive 19. Imagine how quickly Panda will be fielding those bunts to the 3rd base side this season! An issue he always shied away from, Panda is now speaking publicly about his weight loss goals. On January 28th, he posted “Check my Avatar Picture….i’m not thin or skinny, but i feel more Healthy…i feel different.” The photo is of him in a pool, shirt off, looking remarkably more fit than he ever has. “I’m not done,” he went on to say. “This is the beginning of my goal, I haven’t reached it yet.”

It’s going to take this kind of determination from ALL the Giants players to repeat this year. But with players like Kung Fu Panda setting the tone this preseason, guys won’t have to look far for inspiration. I can’t wait to see the starting 9 take the field come March 31st, and hopefully, Kung “Fit” Panda will be leading the way.

(-TS)

Root, Root, Root for the Away Team?

We all know the tune. We’ve all gotten up and stretched during that space between the top and bottom of the 7th inning. But as long as I’ve been attending baseball games, I seem to have gotten the words wrong. You see, I no longer live in the same town as my team. I’m just a visitor. The proverbial “couch-surfer” of the sports fan community. The unfortunate “out of market” fan. I put on my orange and black, and brave the masses of LA blue to see my starting 9 take the diamond. But the more I’ve attended games as a fan of the visiting team, I’ve realized it’s not ALL bad.

The first out of market Giants game I went to was a few years back at Dodger Stadium. Without thinking, I threw on my throwback Will Clark shirt, and started hiking up the hill towards the entrance. On the way up, I was heckled, laughed at, and shouted at by a number of men in blue. Now, I’m all for a little back and forth with opposing fans, but never in my life have I been asked if I had “some kevlar underneath that filthy shirt”, or if I wanted to “have my face introduced to some Chuck Taylors”. I was getting a bit nervous about my choice in attire for the game.

Once I got into my seat, I started to forget about the far from friendly greetings from the local fans. And I started to have a good time. And here’s why. As an out of market fan, you’re the stand out. The misfit. You showed up to the black tie affair in a tuxedo shirt. But the thing about being the sore thumb is you’re never alone. I was spotted by 3 other Giants fans, and I was instantly part of their crew. They waved over to me, and shouted “Go G-Men!”

Having gone to Giants games in the bay area all my life, I had gotten used to seeing orange everywhere. But as a fan of the visiting team, seeing that orange was a whole new feeling.

Now I’m not saying that I would rather go to a game at Chavez Ravine than AT&T Park. But I am encouraging all you displaced fans to brave the hecklers, pull on that jersey, and go support your home team, even if you’re not at home. You’ll be surprised at the number of friends you’ll make. Just don’t forget to change the words to that song we all know and love during the 7th inning stretch.

(-TS)