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Panda Watch, Volume 1: Welcome to Panda Watch

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An introduction to a weekly Pablo Sandoval check-in meant to help a drifting Red Sox fan get back on track.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, everyone! I'm AK Lingus -- staff attorney in a nonprofit in California, but more importantly, Red Sox fan and reader of Over The Monster for a good while. How about that Boston professional base ball club, eh?

When I was asked to contribute to Over the Monster, it occurred to me that I've actually become much worse of a Red Sox fan than I'd ever imagined. I very rarely watch the team on TV as it is (the occasional streamed game here or there, certainly most every game of the 2013 World Series run), but even my daily check of the box scores had become every few days, sometimes just a glance at the game score (and, more often than not, a sigh at the result).

I feel like I've lost the zeal as a fan I had in my early twenties, and I wonder how I'll be able to at least recapture some of that zeal, especially since the team is intriguing heading into 2016 and quite possibly primed to take a weaker AL East than we've seen in a few years. So how to do that?

Here's how: by following one of the biggest disappointments of the extremely disappointing 2015 Boston Red Sox. That's right -- I'll rebuild my passion for the Sox by keeping up with Pablo Sandoval.

No, I'm not crazy.

Well, maybe a bit. But bear with me, here.

I can't say I was super-psyched when Boston committed $91 million dollars over five years to a 28-year-old third baseman with an injury history whose OPS had declined for four straight seasons, but a part of me was glad to have someone like Sandoval, a beloved personality on the Giants and someone who was just fun to watch, on a team that hadn't been a whole ton of fun to follow in 2014. I hoped that he'd be able to rediscover his 2011 form, or at the very least maintain the form of 2014, adding a bit of pop to the lineup and playing an adequate third base.

I never imagined that he'd have the nightmare campaign that he did, that he'd go weeks apparently having forgotten how to hit or field or do anything even vaguely related to the game of baseball, or that he'd be embroiled in the dumbest in-game controversy in quite some time. But that's exactly what happened, and now we're stuck with him.

That's the pessimistic way of looking at it. Here's another way of looking at it:

Panda's a professional. He had to have been embarrassed by how badly he played, how he was a direct contributor to the underachieving of the 2015 Sox, how he was jeered and mocked and skewered for six months, and how he still has four guaranteed years on this squad. And, one hopes, he's put that embarrassment into getting back to an All-Star level and helping to lead this team back to the promised land.

[Checks spring training stats]

Well... one hopes he'll put that embarrassment into getting back to an All-Star level and helping to lead this team back to the promised land once the regular season starts.

And I'll be there with him, every step of the way. I'll be checking in every week on Panda's progress, commenting on the highlights and lowlights, hoping that having an investment in a player I loved as a nonpartisan when he was on the Giants and hope to love as a member of my favorite team will help me to rekindle my passion for said favorite team. I'm cautiously optimistic about all of it -- Panda, the Red Sox, and my fandom. It's March. I can afford to be such.

Hell, let's just get started right now. Let's just take a second to see what's been up with Sandoval the past few days and then...

...you know, let's just officially kick this series off next week.