The Loop

Pablo Sandoval is all of us emerging from quarantine

Maybe you’ve been out and about since Memorial Day, hitting the beaches, sipping frozen Margs at the local watering hole, and pitching fits in the grocery store when you are kindly asked to protect yourself from a highly infectious disease that literally turns your blood to sludge, but we here in the northeast, New York City in particular, are only now beginning to emerge from our respective quarantines. We have discovered that the sun is brighter than we remember it, the sirens a little louder than we remember them, and that our pants don’t fit quite like they used to. And because of that, we will say this to currently under-fire Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval.

We’re with you, buddy. We feel your pain.

That’s the Kung-Fu Panda as of July 4th, 2020. Like many of us, quarantine hit him like a sock full of nickels. Sandoval was never the sveltest specimen—his infamous belt-bursting swing back in 2016 remains one of the most relatable professional sports moments of all time—but COVID quarantine has seen him move up another weight class. We’re not here to shame him for it, however. As many psychologists have pointed out over the course of the past few months, America’s collective thickening isn’t as much snacking as it is science.

“We often associate food with comfort. We literally have that name, these are comfort foods,” Ann Kearney-Cooke, a psychologist at the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute told TODAY back in April. “Short-term stress will decrease appetite. But if it’s long-term stress or if we don’t know when it ends, it increases appetite.”

According to Kearney-Cook, when human beings experience sustained stress—such as, say, the very real prospect of a civilization-ending contagion usually reserved for corny Hollywood blockbusters—their bodies secrete cortisol, a steroid hormone which increases feelings of hunger. Perhaps this helps to explain whatever it is that’s been happening to Bryson.

Obviously Sandoval has a lot of work to do before he’s even in stair, let alone baseball, shape, but in this brave new universal DH world, the Panda’s newly cultivated mass may prove to be a weapon not a weakness.