Pablo The Panda And The Worst Souvenir Ever

I want you, for a moment, to picture Pablo Sandoval's crotch. Now imagine getting smacked in the face with something that spends all day down there.

Poor Karl Mondon was only doing his job during the Giants' home opener. Standing in the photographer's well, just beyond the third base dugout, he had his camera - and his attention - focused on the batter at home plate. Not sure how Sandoval manages to escape anyone's field of vision, but he did.

In the bottom of the 12th inning Friday, with Eli Whiteside at the plate and Sandoval dancing off 3rd base with the possible winning run, it hit me.

Panda's athletic cup.

In the head.

In 25 years of photographing baseball, that was the first, and please, last time that's ever happened.

I had been shooting from the photo well next to the Giants dugout on the 3rd baseline when Sandoval was running the bags during the Giants' comeback. He seemed uncomfortable though, and started fussing with his belt when he got to 3rd.

After I turned my attention back to home plate to shoot the batter, something hits me in the head.

Nearby fans gasped, and then groaned.

The Panda's cup is sitting untouched behind me in full radioactive glory.

Mercifully, trainer Dave Groeschner comes over wearing Sandoval's glove, and retrieves the offending blue projectile.

Glad I was wearing a hat.

Both Sandoval and Groeschner confirm the story, although it was actually Nate Schierholtz's glove used to handle the, um, completely normal piece of athletic equipment about which we shouldn't giggle like schoolgirls.

Sandoval says it was just an errant toss, and no malice was intended. Which is good, because we might have had another Sexual Harassment Panda on our hands.

Pablo Sandoval can't keep his cup in his pants [San Jose Mercury News]