The Red Sox purge the Panda

Even a slimmed-down Panda proved still injury prone and unable to pull his weight in Boston.

Even a slimmed-down Panda proved still injury prone and unable to pull his weight in Boston.

Has any fall from grace in the past two or three years been as profound and sad as Pablo Sandoval’s? Maybe this year’s collapse of his former Giants qualifies. Maybe.

The Red Sox have designated Kung Fu Panda for assignment—while he was already down on the farm at Pawtucket rehabbing after an inner ear infection sidelined him earlier this month. The team activated him, then designated him.

A tale of three Red Sox third basemen, including a Panda on the pine

Sandoval has lost the starting 3B job to Travis Shaw . . .

Sandoval has lost the starting 3B job to Travis Shaw . . .

Will Middlebrooks has accepted an assignment to Colorado Springs (AAA) after he was told days earlier he wouldn’t make the Milwaukee Brewers roster out of spring training. Earlier this month, manager Craig Counsell suggested Middlebrooks might have a better chance to make the Brewers as a backup first baseman if he showed any aptitude for the position.

Maybe he did defensively, but Middlebrooks’ still sleepy bat killed his chance of sticking with the Brewers, to whose camp he was a non-roster invitation. And the chances of the once-glittering, former Red Sox third base prospect catching on elsewhere may be thread thin.

As we turn toward spring training’s final week . . .

Fifty cent fines for mental mistakes . . .

Fifty cent fines for mental mistakes . . . may not be as chintzy as they look on the surface . . .

Of Cardinal sinners and Royal stuffers

Is hacking for the Redbirds?

Is hacking for the (Red)birds?

Boys will be boys, in baseball and elsewhere, and grown men will be boys, too. But some of what the Show Me State’s boys and girls seem to be showing don’t seem to be the kind of thing you’d like showing.

If the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office isn’t facing an investigation into whether people therein hacked into the Houston Astros’ internal data networks, Kansas City fans are gleefully stuffing online All-Star ballot boxes in favour of the Royals regardless of whether the players in question deserve to be in the starting lineup.

Spring training is sprung . . .

. . . and what would be a little spring training without a few little controversies, actual or alleged, here and there?

Manfred

Manfred

■ THE CHANGELING—That would be new commissioner Rob Manfred, for whom it seems everything short of shortening the basepaths (oops! don’t give him any ideas!) is on the table, whether it’s outlawing defensive shifting, coming up with new rule adjustments to (it is alleged) speed up the game, or even returning baseball to the 154-game season. (The American League went to 162 games after its first expansion, beginning in 1961; the National League did likewise starting with its first expansion in 1962.)

The Red Sox corral a Panda

That was then: His third bomb of 2012 World Series Game One. This is now: The Panda goes to Beantown . . .

That was then: His third bomb of 2012 World Series Game One. This is now: The Panda goes to Beantown . . .

Yes, Giants fans. It will be a little strange to think of the Giants taking the field in 2015 without Pablo Sandoval at third base. It is a little strange that, when it came down to the proverbial nitty gritty, Kung Fu Panda ended up signing practically the same deal with the Red Sox that the Giants ultimately offered. Until you look past the raw numbers and the raw years, that is.

The Royals execute a Game Six slashout . . .

Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas

Escobar (2) and Moustakas (8) enjoy scoring on shuttlecocks as well as bullet hits . . .

Hands up to everyone who expected Game Six to be a blowout on either side. Join the club, I didn’t expect it either. So let’s be reasonable, consider the source, and call what the Kansas City Royals did Tuesday night a 10-0 slashout.

Now, hands up to everyone who thought the Royals would hang up a seven-spot in the second inning Tuesday night. Join the club, I didn’t expect that, either. But there they were. The Roach Coach’s windows were wiped, the oil was changed, the tank was filled with fuel, and the Royals sent it into runaway train mode before the San Francisco Giants had a clue to what was hitting them.

This kind of Bumming around the Royals don’t need . . .

Bumgarner's traveling in seriously historic World Series company . . .

Bumgarner’s traveling in seriously historic World Series company . . .

We’ve learned two more things from Game Five. Thing one: Madison Bumgarner is traveling in the World Series company of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling, Whitey Ford, and Lefty Grove. Thing two: H-D-H, or at least H and D, are only human, too.

Bumgarner pitched a masterpiece of a shutout Sunday night, Kelvim Herrera left first and second for Wade Davis in the eighth only to see them score on Juan Perez’s fat-the-calf double, and the San Francisco Giants put themselves on the threshold of becoming the second team other than the Boston Red Sox to collect three World Series rings in the 21st century.

Madison’s Avenue

Madison Avenue wasn't a friendly mile for the Royals in Game One . . .

Madison Avenue wasn’t a friendly mile for the Royals in Game One . . .

Some put it this way: The Kansas City Royals only have to win four out of the next six games, and they may only have to deal with Madison Bumgarner in the fourth of the six, if the World Series gets that far in the first place. Makes it sound simple enough, right? All they have to do otherwise is keep the San Francisco Giants from swarming forth right out of the chute.

The Giants give the Pirates the Bum’s rush out

You may not want to address him as Bum these days . . .

You may not want to address him as Bum these days . . .

Sorry to disappoint you. It’s not that Madison Bumgarner’s Wednesday night masterpiece was anything resembling boring, but that masterpiece plus the Giants’ bludgeoning of the Pirates in the National League’s wild card game wasn’t exactly the kind of hair raiser the Royals and the Athletics raised up the night before.