The beauty of baseball is that even fat guys can play it, and play it well. It's the most democratic of sports. You can be chunky, you can be roly-poly, you can be out and out blubbery and still find a place in this game.
I should know. I played it for years.
But if you need further proof, I give you Pablo Sandoval.
The Kung Fu Panda sure lit it up last night in the San Francisco Giants' 8-3 win over the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the World Series.
Sandoval became only the third player in history -- the others are Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols -- to smack three home runs in a World Series. And in accomplishing that feat, he gave hope to fat guys and former fat guys all over this nation that greatness could one day be theirs, too -- at least, if they can turn on a Justin Verlander fastball.
Sandoval's weight has been variously listed as anywhere between 250 and 300 pounds this season. Giants fans love him because of his outgoing personality and everyman physique. But the big third baseman's physical condition has been an issue in San Francisco for some time, now.
Just two years ago, the Giants benched him during the 2010 World Series with the Texas Rangers because his weight was up and his play was awful.
And just a few months ago, when the Giants' moved him over to first base from third as he recovered from an injury, manager Bruce Bochy likened him to the fat kid in Little League that you stick at first and don't worry about getting hurt, since the position is less demanding.
But who''s had the last laugh now? The Kung Fu Panda is in the history books now. And the overweight everywhere can rejoice.
Sandoval took Verlander's letter-high fastball over the center-field fence for a solo shot in the first inning and hit a two-run homer off the reigning Cy Young Award-winner and AL MVP in the third that had AT&T Park rocking.
In the fifth he went deep off Tigers' reliever Al Alburquerque, earning a curtain call from the frenzied crowd. And he singled in his final at-bat for good measure.
We'll see how Sandoval does in the rest of the Series, which resumes tonight with Game 2. And there are a couple of other celebrated big men in the Detroit lineup, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, who could make this a showcase for the over-30-point Body Mass Index crowd.
That's why you have to love baseball. Maybe it's no longer America's Pastime. Maybe it's not the all-powerful NFL or world-class soccer, the so-called "Beautiful Game" of the sleek and quick.
But baseball lets guys like Sandoval and Fielder and Cabrera shine, and there's a certain beauty in that, too.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun