Pablo Sandoval has hardly played an inning this season. Of course, he’s mostly to blame, and has done himself no favors by not keeping in minimal baseball shape. But the entire ordeal raises a larger issue: why do we hate fat people?
Social-media heaven: Pictures of Pablo stretching the limits of a too-tight exercise top, after reporting to camp very overweight. Instagrams of the @The_Panda48 actually busting his belt buckle on an overzealous preseason swing. The press isn’t really nice, and society in general ain’t either, sometimes, and Señor Sandoval is easy pickin’ in Spring 2016.
Hey, MLB has a long history of big, beefy players. Mickey Lolich was a wonderful pitcher for the Tigers for many years and notched 217 wins in a storied career. (And yes, he opened a donut shop when he retired; go ahead a take a pot shot.) Bartolo Colon is my favorite New York Met; he’s my height and about 80 pounds heavier, and he doesn’t give a crap. He still gets people out at age 42 (and has 219 wins). Last I checked, you didn’t have to run a 6:00 mile to play baseball.
Prince Fielder is a monster-size Texas Ranger. Baseball’s best hitter, @MiguelCabrera, certainly carries a few extra pounds. And so, always, has the Panda (even when he was World Series MVP–a trophy, incidentally, named for Babe Ruth).
This season, he got a bit carried away. In fact, he seems to have a bit of an eating problem. They say he once gained 21 pounds in 21 days on an off-season visit to Venezuela. Hey-who doesn’t gain a bit with mom’s home cooking around the holidays?
This story might be more about our unhealthy body-image obsession, about our inability to accept people of different shapes, sizes and body types. We are manic about gluten, and high-density lipo-proteins, and omega fats, and no-cal beer and good fat versus bad fat.
Of course, we should be concerned about our health. But maybe we should look at people as people first, and shapes second. Humankind comes in a wonderful array of colors, and heights, and sizes. Can I get a little acceptance?
Pablo Sandoval, you’re a pro athlete and you have a duty to your team to keep in playing shape. I pray that you get your mind and body right and are back on the field for the Red Sox soon.
But for now, baseball fans, no more shots… ummm…below the belt, OK?
Thanks to hardballtimes.com for this wonderful quote, which came the season after Mickey Lolich won 25 games: “Big bellies run in the Lolich family,” he told writer Barry Abramson. “We’re healthier when we’re chubby.”