Baseball players are inherently superstitious; routine is seemingly crucial for players to sustain their success. For San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, his daily trek to the ballpark was recently unintentionally altered. The Giants’ $90-million man had his beloved electric scooter stolen while reportedly eating dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco after an 8-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday night.
For Pence, this mischievous act is a total travesty. His unconventional methods of traveling to and from AT&T Park during Giants homestands is a staple in his daily baseball ritual. Even though Pence hasn’t implied that losing his scooter could impact his performance on the field, it wouldn’t be uncharacteristic for a baseball player to endure the mental side effects of sudden change.
After all, teammate Pablo Sandoval religiously wears cowboy boots, a gift from native southerner Madison Bumgarner, before every game because he legitimately believes the boots can help him hit.
Pence has been on fire for the Giants as of late. After getting off to a slow start, the man formerly dubbed “The Preacher” has been on a torrid pace for San Francisco, mitigating the extended loss of slugging first baseman Brandon Belt. He’s raised his batting average by 27 points in the month of May (.289), bashing four homes runs with nine RBIs in the process. The Giants need Pence to consistently perform at a high level, especially considering Buster Posey‘s current struggles.
It’s not surprising that Pence registered an 0-for-4 with a strikeout on the day after his scooter was stolen. Then again, it also didn’t help that he was facing Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija, who ranks second in the big leagues with a microscopic 1.68 ERA. It could have simply been a solid effort from the Cubs’ probable All-Star, or it could have been the lingering effect of sadness stemming from the loss of a prized possession.
Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow said on television that Pence had acted as if “he had lost a friend.”
One game won’t make or break a season, but the Giants are hopeful that Pence isn’t on the verge of his second prolonged slump of the season. At 32-19, San Francisco currently own the best record in baseball, but won’t be able to keep those bragging rights without Pence continuing to produce at a high level. The city of San Francisco is on alert: somebody needs to find and return Pence’s scooter.