Ratto: Sanchez could be making room for Zito


Ratto: Sanchez could be making room for Zito

June 24, 2011


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Bad news from the Thing On King for those of you who are sick of the Whatever will we do with Barry Zito? snivel-fest: Jonathan Sanchez is making the choice easy.

In fact, the decision might already be made. Sanchez has no more starts before Zitos resurrection from the minor league crypt Tuesday, and if the lavlishly-rewarded left-hander has rediscovered his stroke, Bruce Bochy will be asked now about a brand new fascinating choice, to wit:

Can you use Zito in a four-man rotation?

It is a testament to how strangely over-covered the Giants often are that Zito, who is still a fifth starter candidate no matter what he makes or how we fetishize his return, has become Topic A on a postseason contender. Indeed, the discussion after the Giants manipulated a 4-3 win over AL Central leader Cleveland Friday night was mostly about . . . well, yes. That.

The reason? Sanchez, who was all over the place including the neighbors yard again. He lasted only 4 23 innings, with two hits, six walks and a hit-by of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo that broke the Indians best outfielders thumb and caused the promotion of former Athletic Travis Buck from AAA.

It was the second time in succession that he couldnt clear the fifth inning, and fourth time in five starts that he walked at least five hitters. This was not a Bumgarner-ian start, but it was anticipated by seemingly everyone in the ballpark, including (based on the always handy barometer of body language) Sanchez himself.

Giants Insider gallery: Torres bails out Sanchez

You can see its affected his confidence, Bochy said. When asked to clarify if Sanchez demeanor on the mound, coming off the mound or in the dugout is the tip-off, Bochy added, Its all of the above. I can see its affecting him, hes lost a little of, I hate to use the word swagger, but he just doesnt have that confident feeling.

Indeed, he opened up the door to Sanchez demotion from the rotation wider than he has for any other pitcher at any other time, saying, Ill have to get with Dave Righetti (the pitching coach) when Im done with (the press conference), and then talk with Johnny tomorrow.

Thats Johnny, not Sanchy. Thats a demotion right there.

In short, Sanchez has become, for lack of a better phrase, the new Zito the pitcher who makes fans cringe at the very mention of his next start. And Zito has become a sort of fan favorite, in the same way that backup quarterbacks do; the less you see, the more you romanticize.

And right now, Zito is Denton True Young His Own Bad Self, while Sanchez has become . . . well, name a pitcher who gave you the heebie-jeebies when you were a kid, and add 20 percent.

Four days ago, Zito was mentioned as a potential replacement for Madison Bumgarner, who had a record-warpingly rancid outing against Minnesota. Bruce Bochy dismissed that as folly, because it was probably a one-off. Sanchez has now been an ongoing root canal for nearly a month now, and Bochy is going to seriously consider exchanging worrisome lefthanders because the one sees all the time worries him more than the one he hasnt seen in 70 days.

RELATED: Zito to start Game 2 vs. Chicago on Tuesday

Human nature. The tire fire you can smell is always worse than the chemical fire you watch on TV.

Now were not saying that Zito is doomed to fail when he returns in Tuesdays nightcap against Chicago. We cant say it, for like everyone else, we have no idea whether he has fixed what ailed him.

But he has been rendered annoying in absentia by all those who (a) loathed his starts when he was making them and then (b) started longing for them when he stopped.

And Sanchez, with all his allegedly electric stuff and hangdog looks at the end of every inning he pitches, good or bad, is now taking Zitos upper berth in the We Dont Like You Limited because he has been around and pitching.

Face it, fans are visual learners. They remember what they see more than what they are told.

So Zito is back, and contrary to the situation a month ago, there not only is room for him, there is elbow room for him. Nobody could have foreseen that even two weeks ago, let alone a month, and at that Bochy still isnt giving up the word. He has to . . . all together, boys and girls, in the key of C-flat . . . talk it over with Brian.

And the fact that Righetti and Sanchez will also be part of the discussion tree suggests that The Zito Problem has finally solved itself, as you knew it would. Not with a pronouncement from on high, but a baseball development that answered the questions Bochy had to duck.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.