Zito’s Eggs Get Scrambled

July 27

Haven’t blogged in a while. Been ultra-busy. So I scribbled down some notes on the last few days:

A few weeks ago it was “Zito To The Rescue.” He gave the Giants three good outings, then maxed out. Bottom line, and it has been true for a while: he lacks big-league stuff.

Jamie Moyer wouldn’t dent the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man with his stuff, but he had command and control. His mistakes were hit hard, but he learned how to locate and keep hitters off balance.

Along with lacking the stuff, Zito lacks that kind of command. If his “fastball,” or cutter or changeup leak over the plate, even a team that has trouble hitting lefties is in a race to the bat rack.

In the latest installment of Showtime’s “The Franchise,” Zito is featured cooking some eggs at his Los Angeles home during the All-Star break. Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park, he was the main dish.

Zito was able to perform one important task for the Giants: fall on the sword. He lasted seven innings, so Bruce Bochy didn’t have to drain his bullpen. In that regard, he performed his role as a #5 starter very well.

The Giants still had to try, one more time, to see what they could get out of Zito. They got three wins. If they win the division by two games, credit Zito.

But seriously, Zito managed to go from awful to passable in the space of a few innings. Will it be Zito’s last start this year ? It had that kind of look, but it’s really hard to say.

If Jonathan Sanchez is ready and strong Zito goes to the ‘pen, barring injury. If Sanchez can’t find the range, it could be a ping pong match, Zeets and Sanchy, back and forth.

We referred to this a few weeks ago: if Zito could reclaim a spot in the rotation, and Sanchez was healthy, the Giants might be able to trade one of them — most likely Sanchez. Now you can forget all of that.

The Giants must hope, once again, that Sanchez can harness his ability and give the Giants at least six innings a start without walking everyone but Renel. Yes, now it’s “Sanchy To The Rescue.” Oh boy.

Yet another reason to cherish the found money that is Ryan Vogelsong.

***

High school reunions are always a bizarre yet interesting experience. The people you knew from three decades ago have roughly the same faces; some have managed to avoid the ravages of time ( I hate those people ), but they are not the same people.

Conversations are often begun with, “so, what have you been doing the last three decades ?” We leave most of the juicy details out of our answer, so the talk inevitably reverts to our frame of reference: our old neighborhood, or teachers we knew.

This I love: as I arrived for Sunday’s Hamilton High School reunion picnic at Rancho Park in Los Angeles, the first thing someone said when they saw my name tag was, “what happened to all the hair? ” Three decades, that’s what. The Spicoli-like locks departed the scene about the time Bush the Elder took office.

An amazing number of my classmates stayed put in West Los Angeles, some in the very neighborhood where I grew up. I had wanderlust, I wanted to see the world. I finally ended up in the Bay Area for the last 14 years or so, but I dotted the map before that.

It’s funny how some of the old high school dynamic is still in place. Cliques formed. Many of the jocks were still jock-like, the nerds still nerdy, the hippies not quite cleaned up. I fell somewhere in between that social dynamic.

Oh yes. I swear to you this happened over the weekend: a girl who wouldn’t talk to me in school, now a middle-aged woman, gave me the Heisman. Again. Unbelievable.

It wasn’t like I was giving her a pick-up line. I’m a happily married guy. She was standing there with her friend and I was just trying to break the ice, asking a question about whether they had stayed in Los Angeles all these years.

Crickets. Then she acted as if she saw someone she had been waiting for and just walked away. Dang, I used Scope before I arrived, so it couldn’t have been my breath. Needless to say, I won’t bother to break the ice anymore.

Some things never change. At least I don’t have to buy zit cream anymore.

***

Perusal of the alumni rag that was handed out Sunday revealed a fairly impressive array of former “Hami” Yankees in the arena of sports: Leigh Steinberg, Al Michaels, Warren Moon, Sidney Wicks, Rod Martin, and former Giants coach Peanuts Lowry, to name a few.

Moon, a classmate of mine, was obviously quite a story. The guy they called “Daddy” in high school because of his maturity and serious demeanor could throw but could also scramble. It was easy to pigeon-hole him as a “black running quarterback,” but his rifle arm helped him bust through barriers.

Through college and the pro’s, scouts and coaches wanted him to change positions, but he insisted on remaining a quarterback. Moon was still passed over in the draft and didn’t break into the NFL until he had proven himself north of the border.

Those who wanted him to fit in a nice category didn’t see all of this coming: a memorable Rose Bowl performance for Washington, Canadian Football League championships, NFL record-setting, playing at a very high level into his 40’s and finally, the Hall of Fame.

It was ground-breaking stuff back then. Now, hardly anyone cares about a quarterback’s race, as long as he can win. But Moon remains sensitive to the issue and has taken up for Cam Newton, believing race plays a factor in the criticism of the Heisman Trophy winner.

We’ve come a long way since Moon’s playing days, and Moon is a big reason why, but he knows as well as anyone there are still a few more yards before we reach the goal line.

***

Did I miss it ? Did the law change this year ? Is the left lane now the slow lane on Interstate 5 and 101 ?

Either that, or thousands of California motorists are unclear on the concept. It is an epidemic on those four-lane roads, where there is only one lane to pass: slower drivers are camping out in the passing lane.

The problem is, slower drivers also camp out where they should, in the slow lane. Hence, no one can pass.

Oh wait, I saw a sign on the way up from Santa Barbara Monday which said: “Slower Traffic Keep Right.” Aha ! The law hasn’t changed.

Either that, or some motorists think “keep right” means “keep right of the center divide.”

There were several times on my trip up 101 that I was both “passer” and “pass-ee,” and I always try to move over when someone wants to pass. Mind you, I don’t appreciate those who tailgate: I can usually tell when someone wants to pass without having them close enough to tap on my shoulder. I’ll move over in a second, dude.

Left-lane campers are simply selfish and rude, or ignorant. Their attitude seems to be: I don’t feel like moving, for you or anyone else. Just go around me. Except sometimes that’s not possible.

The left lane is for passing. Passing, not meandering.

Who am I kidding ? I’d have to text those drivers for them to get the message.

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8 Responses to “Zito’s Eggs Get Scrambled”

  1. Dan Says:

    Hey Ray, great work as always. Thank you!

    Zito is just so frustrating — and predictable — to watch! He’s not without substantial talent, but he just can’t seem find what it takes to get the third strike or the third out. I thought he had developed, or re-developed, an appreciation for the big leagues, having spent a couple weeks in the minors. Maybe he would be more determined, I thought, more appreciative. Maybe he would understand that he can trust his thinking as well as his pitching.

    He’s been in the big leagues for a good long time. He understands the game. He knows his body. He’s obviously not a flamethrower, so he must know how to pitch. But instead of seeing the evidence of all this, we see a guy who goes out and walks guys, a guy who gets the first two guys out and can’t get out of the first inning without giving up an absolute rocket launch!

    I heard Krukow say, well, he didn’t really pitch that badly (vs. the Phils on 7/26), and I disagree. Yeah, Bochy didn’t have to overuse the bullpen, and we were glad that he could use everyone in their proper roles in the last two games of the series. But Zito never gave our guys a real chance in that game. He goes out with a one-run lead, gives up the four spot all with two outs and the bases empty, and repeats his pattern of pitching well until — boom! — there goes another HR. Pitching pretty good then — boom! — another one, And on and on it goes. Is it concentration? Is it velocity? Well, whatever it is, I’ve seen enought of it.

    I really want to like the guy. I want him to turn it around. I would love for the feel good story of 2011 to be Zito Unhittable — Who’s :Laughing Now? Not happening. And we got two more $20M seasons to endure.

    Also enjoyed your bits about the class reunion and the driving on the highways these days.

    What are your thoughts on the umpires these days? That was a pretty big blown call in that 16-inning Braves-Pitts game the other night. Are you in favor of instant replay? What I miss is the old days of the league presidents having authority over the umps, reprimanding them for poor performance when needed. In my opinion, the worst thing about the umps now is their attitudes. They develop these absolutely miniscule strike zones and then when they can’t be consistent, they become indignant when anyone complains!

    I used to really love to watch the umpires. Replays almost always showed they were right, even on the toughest plays. NL and AL umps worked the plate differently and worked the bases differently, too. Dick Stello was one of my favorite guys to watch. In a big Giants-Dodgers game in the 70s, Billy North was on the Dodgers and he hit into a DP to get the GIants out of a tough spot late in the game. It was Stello who rang up the speedy North at first, and Stello hesitated just a split second to feed the drama before giving a great OUT sign. Candlestick exploded — probably all 23,000 of us!

  2. Michael Says:

    Ray,
    Love your take of the normal (and sometimes abnormal) occurrences of life. Find your perspective of things and your likes/dislikes very similar to mine. Mind you, I’m not asking you for a date.
    Keep up the great insights and comments that always seem to make this “hard ass” smile

  3. Greg Olzack Says:

    A comment on each of your three thoughts:

    What is becoming more apparent is that Zito, Sanchez, and Bumgarner are all prone to instability on any given start (especially in the early innings).

    Apparently, your former classmate is not listening to the 50,000 watt flamethrower down there in LA. She should realize just who’s she’s blowing off!!

    My particular pet peeve while travelling the freeways are the truckers who are behind other trucks in the slow lane and wait until the last second to pull out to pass right in front of you. Then they take an eternity to move back over.

  4. South City Jim Says:

    I agree with Greg. Truthfully Zito’s first two starts following the break were awful, but he should get kudos for taking one for the team yesterday. Short of Verlander, there isn’t a starting pitcher in the league that could have won that game, in that ballpark, against that line-up, with Cueto on the mound against the Giants line-up. That was a loss and it didn’t mean wasting a fine outing from Lincecum or Cain.

  5. Dodger Says:

    Ray, you’re a true jackass, sarcastic and apparently of the opinion that you are somehow clever. However, you are mostly just sad. I am enjoying the Giants slide into oblivion, but more than anything I am taking incredible pleasure at how ridiculous it makes you and your station look. I think SF fans are smarter than the homer spin doctor coverage you give out, but maybe I am wrong. maybe they need that kind of bias in their coverage to feel good about themselves. One thing is true however, all of the corny hype and spots the station runs just makes it more fun for all of us that are enjoying the great fall. Please find another job, maybe research subject; perhaps they can try to find out how you have been at the station so long and have failed to move up at all, or how you have tried in vain to live off the success of your parents.

    • raywood Says:

      The fact this criticism came from such a bitter, cowardly, unkind person makes me feel much better about myself.

  6. James Says:

    Ray,

    dont have twitter but do have net…listening to your show at 11p 8/2 so after losing two at home to the dbacks, how ’bout we do something rad, unheard of….Bochy is a pinch hitter in the 7th…aaah and Lopez becomes part of the rotation andTejada goes into the pen….

    J

  7. David Brumfield II Says:

    I guess J. Sanchez is better than Zitto, but you still lose with Sanchez, and by a larger margin.

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