Ratto: In the stretch run, Zito is an afterthought


Ratto: In the stretch run, Zito is an afterthought

August 1, 2011


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Its funny how quickly Barry Zitos return to the disabled list disappeared into the ether. One minute, the world was debating whether he could actually identify the injury that sidelined him, the next minute the pennant race returned to the fore.

But thats the beauty of the Zitobsession. It waxes and wanes as though it were its own tide, governed by its own moon. He is sick and then he is cured. He is loved and then he is loathed.
And now, again, he is a hologram.

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Zito was re-disabled with the same foot injury that disabled him the last time, caused according to manager Bruce Bochy by him fouling a ball off his foot and then running on it, thus spraining his ankle.

If you choose to believe it, that is. There are many who do not, given the exquisite timing of Jonathan Sanchezs return to active duty Monday evening, and DL skullduggery is not exactly a clever ruse this time of year.

But thats the beauty of the Zitobsession, too. He is Everypitcher, all at the same time. He is a tavern argument with feet well, foot, as it turns out.

At least he was until about the fourth inning of Mondays 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He completed the out of sightout of mind double lutz and became an afterthought again as the NL West race again became the tale of the tape.
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Matt Cain scuffled through most of six innings, allowing nine baserunners in the fifth and sixth alone, and the Giants hitters didnt even approach scufflehood, and the Diamondbacks compressed just enough hits to turn the Giants divisional lead over the Free-range Reptiles to a single game.

And that is what this entire exercise is still all about, much as the Zitophiles, Zitophobes and Zito Irish Dance Troupe might wish it otherwise. Winning the days game.

Mondays game wasnt that game. Arizona showed through its paper cut offense that it is going to fade neither easily nor willingly. The Dbax seem so soft, so vulnerable, so anonymous, and yet they are none of those things.

Well, maybe anonymous, if you choose not to pay attention to Justin Uptons MVP charge, or new faces like Paul Goldschmidt and Collin Cowgill and Josh Collmenter. The 11 Backs are the 10 Padres in many ways, and while you may not remember them in the October euphoria, those Friars were harder to kill than roaches.

So, we suspect, it shall be for these Arizonae. They have just enough of everything to stay close, and an easier schedule down the stretch so as to prevent the Giants from pulling back on the throttle, either by resting their bone-weary regulars or having a laying-on of hands over Zitos foot.

Giants Insider gallery: 6th inning dooms Giants

No, this will be a slog just as grinding and addictive as last years, although the word torture is still banned. The Giants will look bad a fair amount of the time, and even some of their accomplishments, like Aubrey Huff becoming the second Lad to reach double-figures in homers in only the teams 109th game, will be lost in the days less memorable exertions.

Like Mondays. A relatively quick yet mostly uneventful game, capping a surprisingly eventful day. After all, Freddy Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday and whatever infinitesimal chance he had of playing this year is now gone. Santiago Casilla tweaked his hamstring in the ninth inning and is day-to-day.

Oh, and Barry Zitos foot acted up again. Awfully thoughtful of the foot to come up with that idea all on its own now, isnt it? Thats a real team foot right there.

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations


Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.