Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants is welcomed home by Carlos Beltran and Aubrey Huff of the Giants after his two run homerun off of starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin of the Colorado Rockies in the first inning at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Thursday night, in a road game against the Rockies, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval hit for the cycle. Let's walk through this thing hit by hit.
Monday evening, tucked in at the bottom of a article by Chris Haft, was the following little nugget:.com
Bochy acknowledged that third baseman Pablo Sandoval has regained some of the weight he lost before this season, when he shed an estimated 40 pounds to 240.
It wasn't much, and Bochy said that, overall, Sandoval's in much better shape now than he was a year ago. Still, there were ripples. As far as I can tell, Pablo Sandoval's playing weight is a much bigger story than anybody else's playing weight, and so this news drew a reaction. Some positive, but some negative.
Thursday evening, Pablo Sandoval hit for the cycle. He didn't hit for the cycle in response to Haft's story. Players can't just do that. But according to the narrative I just constructed, that's exactly what he did, because narratives are more interesting than real life.
It is, obviously, absurd on the face of it. If somebody told you that a baseball player hit for the cycle, and you asked who, the other person saying "Pablo Sandoval" would draw the same reaction as "Prince Fielder." They're big ol' fatties! Fatties don't hit for the cycle! But Pablo Sandoval hit for the cycle. It was the second cycle of the season. The first was hit by the Brewers' backup catcher. Absurd, all of it.
If you would like to watch video of Sandoval's cycle, you may do so here. However, presented below are each of his hits, one by one. This strikes me as worthy of a breakdown. I'll do
the best I can it.
What will be forgotten in all the hoopla about Sandoval hitting for the cycle is that he hit a home run, and the home run was absolutely destroyed. I know, yes, Colorado, but that ball found the second deck, kind of. Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez barely moved, and that's when you know a home run is impressive. Gonzalez will figure in this article again a little later.
Here's the thing about hitting for the cycle - it's impressive, because it requires at least four hits in a game, but it's put on this pedestal because people love the, I dunno, symmetry and completeness of it all. If a guy hits two doubles and two homers, that's awesome, but it won't get the attention of a cycle, even though it's better. A cycle can and often does still involve hits like this. This isn't a bad hit or anything, but it's just a normal grounder up the middle. You wouldn't watch this highlight out of context and think, "Yeah, that was part of a special night." Surprise!
This is either a good piece of hitting, or an accidental piece of hitting. I don't know who started the "Fat Ichiro" nickname that I love so much, but this double is exactly how Pablo Sandoval wound up with it. He hit a pitch like Ichiro hits pitches, and he is fat. Less fat than a year ago. But fat.
This hit gave Sandoval a single, double, and homer through the fifth inning. At no point did the Giants' announcers remark that he was a triple away from the cycle. Announcers love to say a guy is a triple away from the cycle. The Giants' announcers didn't even say it for the laughs. They just didn't say it.
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The triple came an inning after the double. Pablo Sandoval didn't just hit for the cycle; he hit for the cycle in two-thirds of a game. He very nearly did not. This ball almost left the yard. This ball was also almost caught by Carlos Gonzalez. The Giants' announcer didn't really raise his voice until after the ball hit the base of the wall and the triple possibility became apparent.
About that, how about another view?
This is when it goes from great to amazing. Pablo Sandoval was a triple away from the cycle. He then hit that triple. And he hit that triple despite trotting to first base, assuming either a catch or a homer. He didn't really turn it on until he was halfway to second. And still, three bases. Three bases without a close play. As unlikely as it is, one wonders if Sandoval would've had a shot at an inside-the-parker had he been booking it the whole way.
The thing that everybody finds so delightful about Pablo Sandoval hitting for the cycle is that, in order to do it, he had to hit a triple. In truth, it's not that crazy that it happened. The triple was the eleventh of Sandoval's young career. It happened in a ballpark that is extremely triple-friendly. The facts strip away a little bit of the shine.
But never mind the facts. Pablo Sandoval hitting for the cycle speaks to you on a certain visceral level that can't be denied. Already with a single, double, and homer, Pablo Sandoval was a triple away from the cycle.
Pablo Sandoval hit the triple. Baseball is crazy.