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Farewell, Kung Fu Panda

Padres Giants Baseball
Pablo Sandoval runs off the field after grounding out Sunday.
(Ben Margot / AP)

Pablo Sandoval, better known as “Kung Fu Panda,” was a key member of three World Series title teams for the San Francisco Giants and the World Series MVP in 2012. He has been one of the most loved players in team history, and in what was probably his final at-bat for the team, Giants fans let him know they won’t forget him.

Sandoval, who is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday, was activated from the disabled list on Sunday and pinch-hit in an 8-4 loss to the San Diego Padres in San Francisco. As soon as he reached the on-deck circle in the seventh inning, the crowd of almost 39,000 began to cheer.

The ovation continued as Sandoval walked to the plate and got louder after he grounded out.

“Just one of those moments you don’t want to forget,” Sandoval told the Associated Press after the game. “I didn’t get the result I wanted, but I got the best result, the love from the fans. At least I hit the ball. I didn’t strike out.”

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Manager Bruce Bochy, also in his final season with the team, gave Sandoval a hug when he returned to the dugout.

“I said, ‘It’s been a joy,’ ” Bochy said. “Obviously we were hoping to get a base hit there, but I think he saw how much he’s loved here with the crowd. What a great ovation they gave him.”

It can all be summed up by Oogway, from the movie “Kung Fu Panda,” who said, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift, that is why it’s called the present.”

Don’t let them in

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College football analyst Paul Finebaum thinks Notre Dame should never be allowed anywhere close to the College Football Playoff again.

Finebaum was on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday and was asked whether Notre Dame could return to the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. His response:

“I think they’re a really good team. I think they can be 10-2, but they are not going back to the playoffs. And frankly, they should never be allowed back to the playoff after their embarrassing loss to Clemson. They should be given a five-year probation,” Finebaum said with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Still, considering Notre Dame was routed 30-3 by Clemson in the CFP last season, Finebaum may have a point. Plus, it’s Notre Dame. Does anyone really want to root for Notre Dame?

Your favorite sports moment

What is your favorite L.A. sports moment? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com and I might run it in a future Morning Briefing. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too.

Today’s moment comes from Charles Betz of Huntington Beach:

My most memorable event occurred during the Coliseum Relays around 1956. I loved track and field, and the annual Coliseum Relays brought out the best track and field athletes and many memorable performances.

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Seated a few rows behind me was Jesse Owens. There was a continuing line of people waiting to get his autograph, all patiently waiting for their turn to talk momentarily with him and get their program signed. Two large young athletes pushed their way past the others to the front of the line. Owens looked at them with a glance that expressed his disappointment and disapproval of their behavior. They turned around and went to the back of the line.

Owens’ quiet dignity and power was very impactful on this young fan. Seeing it, and having the memory of the moment, was far more powerful and important to me than any autographed program or competition of the day.


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