The Boston Globe published a photo of Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval, which has been making the rounds today. You can see it here. Sandoval has had weight issues before, so it’s not shocking that it became the topic of the day.
A lot of people who should know better have been using the image to slight Sandoval as a player, and in some cases, as a person. I assure you that every single one of us has had an unflattering photo taken. Now imagine that photo is published online by one of the largest regional media companies, and millions of people make assumptions from that one angle in that one photo about you as a person and as an employee. That wouldn’t feel so good.
Sandoval departed from the Giants and signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox ahead of the 2015 season. He then proceeded to hit a meager .245/.292/.366 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI over 505 plate appearances with his new team. The Red Sox asked him to lose weight, and he reportedly dropped 20-22 pounds between the end of the season and mid-January. Sandoval said on Sunday that no one with the team requested he drop weight. So that’s interesting.
If Sandoval A) had a productive 2015 season, or B) wasn’t making so much money then his weight wouldn’t be a topic of discussion. It might even make him a fan favorite again, as was the case during his prime years with the Giants. Look at Bartolo Colon with the Mets. The right-hander is close to 300 pounds but the 42-year-old’s at-bats are appointment television. Some of the criticism of Sandoval seems to be a visceral reaction to his wealth and poor production, as if he owes it to us to develop six-pack abs.
Sandoval could have put the weight on after the January report of his weight loss. Maybe the team made up that he lost weight. Maybe he plans to lose more weight during spring training. Some people can be in great physical shape but still have a gut because body types can vary like that. Maybe it was a bad angle. There are a lot of specific details about that Sandoval photo and Sandoval himself that would or would not justify the torching he’s taken today, and we don’t need or deserve access to any of that information, really.
It’s been a long winter and we’re all craving some meaningful baseball news. This isn’t it.