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Projecting The Sports World's Greatest Instagram Creepers

Pablo Sandoval was recently busted for obeying his Instagram Thirst during a game in which he was playing. Embarrassing, but Panda is not alone. Not even close.
Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

There is a frightening new addiction in the world of sports, sinking its claws into our favorite athletes. What seemed at first to be a harmless distraction is now affecting players' livelihoods, costing them valuable game time. The thirst, friends. The thirst is real.

Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval showed us the terrible cost of the thirst when he was benched for last Thursday's game against the Atlanta Braves. His crime: clicking "like" on a woman's Instagram photo during last Wednesday's game, when he slipped away for a moment to use the bathroom.


Read More: J.R. Smith Is A Plumbing Website

Many of Sandoval's postgame quotes could have been pulled verbatim from similar contrition press conferences of players who had been caught using PEDs:

"It was the first time, so I take the mistake and learn from that. I move forward to try not to do it anymore. Ain't going to happen no more, so I learned from that. I'lI take the punishment. When you grow up, you learn from a lot of things. You grow up every single day in your life. You learn from that."

And so baseball joined the ever-growing list of sports struggling with rampant Instagram creepery. Usually the offender is a player sitting out due to injury; Sandoval merely took the creepin' to the next logical step by doing it in between game action, possibly while on a toilet.

Like most entertaining, kinda-sorta-unprofessional pro athlete trends, in-game Instagram creepin' traces its roots back to J.R. Smith. He wasn't the first notable player to get caught checking out the girlies on IG—injured Houston Texans defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney found himself in the headlines for the very same infraction one month earlier—but J.R. is nevertheless the movement's spiritual patriarch. Is it any surprise that an impressionable young teammate like Kyrie Irving got caught liking a model during the playoffs? He learned from the best. When you think of athletes creepin' in the middle of games, you think of J.R., who revolutionized the form.


— Knicks Memes (@KnicksMemes) December 11, 2014

With in-game IG creep now spreading from sport to sport, it's only a matter of time before athletes all over the world are consumed by this new pastime. Here, based on research and information-based projections too complicated to be described, are the athletes likeliest to be the Patient Zero in their respective sports.

Soccer: Mario Balotelli

The Italian footballer is in many ways J.R. Smith's soccer counterpart—charismatic, athletically gifted, maddeningly inconsistent. And like J.R., Super Mario has developed a reputation for getting after young girls on social media. J.R.'s weapon of choice for the infamous "You trying to get the pipe?" incident was the Twitter DM, whereas Mario used Instagram to slide up on not one but two 19-year-old Icelandic ladies:

Momentið þegar Balotelli reynir við kærustuna þina :( #HvaðÁégAðGera? @FinallyMario @Fotboltinet
— jonatan (@jonataningi) January 5, 2015

Balotelli has often started matches on the bench during his previous campaign with Liverpool, so he'll have plenty of opportunities to click "like" during game action.

Football: Darnell Dockett

Clowney may be the originator of NFL Instagram creep, but Dockett made a strong contribution to the genre by bull-rushing into Katherine Webb's DM's with an invitation to take her to a posh Atlanta strip club (and also to Wingstop); he did this while her significant other, A.J. McCarron, was playing for a national championship. He may still have a chance to make history as the first player to get taken out by the Secret Service during a game for posting photos of Malia Obama.

A word to the wise, Darnell: unless you're playing in a dome, those drones can find you.


Baseball: Brett Lawrie

A true utility player: second baseman, third baseman, ass man. (Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals' pr0n-positive, fave-happy emerging ace, is our Cy Young pick, here.)

Hockey: The whole damn NHL checking out Henrik Lunqvist

Your average NHL player looks and dresses like a comic-relief supporting character from a TLC reality show about Appalachian moonshiners. Nasty-ass playoffs beards became a hot topic during the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs when the chairman of NBC Sports—the network with the national broadcast rights to the NHL—took the players to task for covering their oh-so-marketable faces with scruff:

"I know it's a tradition and superstition, but I think (the beards do) hurt recognition. They have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition with fans saying, 'That guy looks like the kid next door (sic),' which many of these guys do. I think that would be a nice thing."

And though most players will do their best to convince you that the hockey gods demand they maintain their "Portland garbage collector" look, you know they are all secretly looking with envy at the Instagram account of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who spends three periods wearing 50 pounds of padding and putting his body in the way of 100 mile-per-hour slap shots and then still comes out to postgame press conferences with every aesthetic element so on-point as to make James Bond look like a goddamn hobo. The rest of the NHL should be creeping on this dude, and taking notes.


Tennis: Jimmy Connors

An old school pick. He doesn't have an Instagram account, but it's not hard to picture this original tennis bro and bowl-cut icon hanging out in a ceremonial box at the U.S. Open and cruising various social media for young ladies:
— Jimmy Connors (@JimmyConnors) May 21, 2015

Cricket: Chris Gayle

Like most Americans, I am medically overweight and know not a damn thing about the game of cricket. That being said, Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle is my favorite athlete and personal hero. He is known as a big hitter and one of only four cricketers to score two triple centuries at Test level.

More importantly, Chris Gayle runs this Instagram shit. This dude makes the Sandovals, Smiths and Balotellis of the sports world look like an order of ascetic monks:

Images via Chris Gayle's Instagram, here, here, and here.

Gayle is a benevolent god of the social media age. Want to know when he's going to have sex? He'll tell you. Need tickets to an upcoming match? He'll hook you up. Want to party with an exotic bird for some reason? He'll bring two.

It seems likely that Gayle won't be content merely to chase ladies on Instagram during a match; that's not nearly significant enough for a man of his talents. One day he will just start seeing IG code like Neo at the end of The Matrix. And then he will dive into the program itself, shaping and molding it into something beyond our primitive understanding. It will be glorious.

Try not to feel too bad about all this, Pablo Sandoval. Your bathroom antics changed the game forever, but if you come at the king of Instagram, you best not miss.