It's a good thing that Pablo Sandoval wasn't playing third base for the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning Tuesday night. No matter that Kung Fu Panda recently has slimmed down thanks to his brother/personal chef making his meals, but a man with Panda's XL frame surely would have crashed into the Giants "ball babe*" on a foul pop up hit by Stephen Drew. That could have been disastrous.
(*"Ball babe" is what beloved Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow calls 'em, so the somewhat sexist nickname is OK!)
Instead, backup Joaquin Arias, navigating railings and bullpens and actual teammates, also had the Snooki-like ball babe to battle for the popup — which he caught anyway — as if she were an official member of the Giants defensive alignment.
The ball babe immediately realized her mistake, for what it's worth, putting up her hands and appearing to apologize to Arias. She also covered her mouth to stifle a nervous laugh before sitting back down on her stool, probably certain that she had just cost herself her cool job. But umpire Bruce Dreckman came by and patted her on the helmet (speaking of gestures that could be interpreted as sexist, or at least condescending) to tell her everything was going to be OK, dear.
The Giants used to (and still do, probably) employ old men to act as "ball dudes" down the lines at AT&T Park. In fact, Yuniesky Betancourt of the Brewers recently ran into one who — while he did not abandon his post, nor did he try to field the ball — was still sitting on the field of play. Betancourt did not make the catch, however.
Maybe the Giants have a new policy: Since major leaguers probably are going to run over old ball dudes anyway (because they're too slow to get out of the way), the team might as well employ spritely young women to just try and catch whatever comes her way.