Most Valuable Panda: Sandoval named WS MVP

PABLO SANDOVAL was named the World Series Most Valuable Player after the leading the San Francisco Giants to a 4-0 sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

The man nicknamed Kung Fu Panda hit .500 with three home runs, a double and four RBIs in 16 Series at-bats.

”I was ready for the moment,” he said after a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Sunday night (Monday morning in Manila). ”It’s just an incredible moment you’re never going to forget.”

Sandoval got the Giants off to a powerful start by hitting three homers in the opener against the Tigers, becoming the fourth player to accomplish that feat in a World Series game.

After matching the Series record shared by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, the Giants sold 760 more of their furry panda hats, including 466 at AT&T Park during Game 2. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez tweeted, ”Pablo going down in history! Long live Venezuela!!”

”I still can’t believe that game. It’s the game of your dreams,” Sandoval said. ”You don’t want to wake up.”

He made his big league debut on Aug. 14, 2008, and earned his nickname just a month later. That Sept. 19 at Dodger Stadium, Sandoval scored from second on Bengie Molina’s first-inning single off Greg Maddux, leaping sideways to avoid catcher Danny Ardoin’s lunging tag on the throw from center fielder Matt Kemp.

Maddux and Dodgers manager Joe Torre argued Sandoval ran out of the baseline. Barry Zito, on the mound for the Giants that night, coined the nickname for Sandoval’s oversized personality and roly-poly shape – the animated film ”Kung Fu Panda” had been released in theaters that June.

”The Panda has special powers,” Zito said in the middle of champagne spray in the Giants’ crowded clubhouse. ”I watched that movie and thought, he’s a guy that if you see him, you may not think he’s so athletic, and then all of sudden, you’re like, wow! This guy is one of the better players in baseball.” Noli  Cruz


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