Sad Panda Needs Hugs

Hello. My name is Jonathan, and I am a curmudgeon.

I like to think I’m an amiable curmudgeon and that my jaundiced view of almost everything is not something I seek to export, but I’m not going to hide my fundamental dislike for everyone else’s sunny dispositions and good feelings.

The surest way to get me never to see a movie is to describe it as a “feel-good” movie, or even worse, “the feel-good movie of the year.”If there is one sure-fire way not to make me feel good, it’s to show me something intended to make me feel good. My favorite movies are those where everyone dies tragically, and, if possibly, senselessly. (Spoiler alerts: my favorite movie is Pan’s Labyrinth, but Melancholia gives it a run for its money.)If not death, at least emotional despair and thwarted expectations. I have literally never seen a movie whose worldview I would describe as “too dark.”

When I describe my many problems with Chip Caray, I leave out his extreme fondness for the “feel-good” story.I leave this out because my antipathy for this is so personal. It colors everything else about him, in my opinion, but I try to focus my critique on things which are far more universal, like the inability to tell a fly ball from a home run, inane statistical ramblings, strategy considerations which make no sense, and a manifest inability to honestly report who was a first-rank candidate for NL MVP, employing motivated reasoning so far up his ass that it substitutes for his upcoming colonoscopy. But his fondness for the feel-good story is a huge part of who he is, and, I suspect, a large part of why those who like him can tolerate him.

To Chip, Pablo Sandoval was a “feel-good” story just waiting to be written.And he kept writing it, rewriting, and polishing it until the only thing left was lies. Pablo Sandoval contributed almost nothing to the successful Braves 2021 season. He was not a net negative… or at least not a big net negative — he was just about nothing. To get him to zero, I’m including the Panda-head hugs in this, which, when they disappeared, were not missed at all! Imagine that! (Curmudgeons dislike almost all of the ‘let the kids play’ stuff, particularly when not performed by kids. That includes Panda-head hugs, umbrellas in the dugout for Donaldson, towel rack rides in Boston, and the rest of the crap. But I’m a curmudgeon. Just ignore my distaste for that stuff.\Apparently it makes people … [suppresses retch] …feel good.)

I’m also including in my assessment the fact that Sandoval did a lot of counseling and advice; maybe it was insanely valuable, but however valuable it was, it was less valuable in terms of wins than getting Eddie Rosario, who people keep insisting he was traded for. All things equal, I’ll take Rosario plus young-guy-cluelessness over a great mentor who leaves a team below 0.500 only to see it recover and win a world championship without him.

Anyway, you all know about the pinch hit homers early in the season, which apparently hold some mystical feel-good sentimental value outweighing the next four months of utter futility and, finally, release. When Sandoval was signed at the start of the season, AAR quite rightly questioned the move. When he did, I pointed out that if there turns out to be any need for Pablo Sandoval on the Braves’ roster, $1MM was a small price to pay, and if there wasn’t any need, $1MM is a small amount to waste… about the cost of two greenhorns. In fact, had Sandoval not been on the roster, his place probably would have been taken by Johan Camargo, who probably would have had virtually the same offensive season. I’ve got a piece coming up about the Mystery That Is Camargo, but this isn’t the place for it. But it’s not as if Sandoval’s place would have been taken by a suddenly-competent Pache. I don’t think having him on the squad cost the Braves very much at all. And when you WIN THE WORLD SERIES (Do people remember that we won the World Series? Even curmudgeons smile occasionally) how much could it have cost you?

Pablo apparently still wants to play another year. Maybe Steven Cohen can be convinced of his mentoring abilities and pay him $7 million. I begrudge the man nothing. I may be a curmudgeon, but I’m no Scrooge. That said, Bah. Humbug.