Ray Ratto

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.

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team


If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

If the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe is right and the total eclipse of the sun is actually a harbinger of the end of life on earth . . .

- It’s good news for the Giants, who have been eliminated from the National League West race for less than 24 hours, or that they will not have to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers put their feet up on baseball for the first time in 28 years.

Besides, there won’t be any more years, so time becomes meaningless.

- It’s good news for the 49ers, who won’t have to endure a harsh week of practice from freshly irked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who finally saw exactly why the job came open for him in the first place.

- It’s good news for Raiders’ fans, who won’t see their team move to Las Vegas, and because they won't be soul-crushed if they can't beat the Patriots -- who will also die en masse despite Bill Belichick's entreaties to ignore the noise of seven billion terrorized shrieks.

- It’s bad news for A’s fans, who will never learn in what location their fabulous new franchise-saving stadium will not be built.

- It’s good news for the Warriors, who can say in their death throes that they were the last NBA champions ever, and that the Lakers will never get LeBron James.

- It’s good news for the Lakers because they cannot be found guilty of tampering with Paul George. It’s also good news for Jimmy Kimmel because he can’t lose a draft choice (some faceless F-list actor as a guest) as a result.

- It’s good news for the Kings, because they’ll never have to have the difficult meeting about Zach Randolph.

- It’s good news for the Chargers, because they won’t have to answer any more questions about why only 21,000 people were announced as the crowd for their second practice game, or to confront the very real possibility that they could become the NFL’s Washington Generals.

- It’s good news for the Jets, Mets, Nets and Knicks because the end of the planet is the only just solution for them all.

- It’s good news for Cal because it can stick its middle finger to the sky and say, “Here’s your $400 million debt. Try to collect it while we’re all dying.”

- It’s good news for Kevin Durant because he doesn’t have to slalom through the Internet trolls any more.

- It’s bad news for Roger Goodell, because he sure left a boatload of money on the table as he was hurtled into space like the rest of us.

- It’s bad news for Nick Saban because he will have never seen it coming. On the other hand, it’s good news for the people who cover Alabama football because they’ve endured their last journalism lecture from Prof. Nick on why they do their jobs so poorly.

- It’s bad luck for Jim Harbaugh because he will feel like a complete nitwit as he learns just what “an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” really means – the end of mankind.

- It’s bad news for all the sixth graders in America who are being offered scholarships that they will never be used by college coaches they will never meet. Of course, that would have been true even  if the world doesn’t end.

- It’s bad news for the hackers who have been spoiling Game Of Thrones because this is Game Of Thrones, only the dragon is the sun incinerating us all.

- It’s bad news for Kyrie Irving, because he will have died a Cleveland Cavalier.

- It’s good news for America, for the obvious reason that the planet will expire before our current political class can murder it.

- And finally, it’s good news for dignity, because the Mayweather-McGregor “thing” will never happen, and that alone means that even as we are torn asunder, we will know that the deity loves us all because both McGrogor and Mayweather are being torn asunder too.

Of course, if you’re reading this Tuesday, you’ll know the world didn’t end, and we’re just as screwed as we ever were. Oh well. Try to find your happy place, and drink like there’s no Wednesday.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.