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1.24.2006

The Bruce is Loose 

Taking a page from one of my favorite snark-blogs, Fire Joe Morgan, I'm going to sit on my haughty Internet perch and with cruel deliberation tear off the wings and legs of the small annoying insect known as today's Bruce Jenkins column.

Jenkins' overall point is well-taken: Barry Bonds makes a huge difference in the NL West. But then he gets into specifics and I start to feel the burning yearning burning feeling inside me.

If Bonds plays a reasonable amount of games -- say, 120 -- the Giants make it to October. If his knees send him back to the netherworld of embarrassing news conferences and misleading information, the Giants will be too old to make a difference.

Giants - Bonds = too old. He may be right, but Jenkins conveniently neglects to mention that this team is considerably younger than last year's opening day team. (Winn, not Grissom; Niekro, not Snow; Feliz, not Alfonzo; Cain, not Rueter; Morris, not Tomko). Still, I acknowledge the concern: the Giants are prone to devastating injury, especially when key positions (LF, RF, 4th OF, SS, C) are manned by graybeards.

In the next paragraph, however, Jenkins starts to obtain cake for the dual purpose of having and eating, as we say in Kazakhstan:

The Giants remain extremely old and decidedly vulnerable. Clearly, though, this is a one-season deal. It seems likely that Bonds is playing his last season in San Francisco (let him DH his way to Henry Aaron if he doesn't catch up this year), and if blessed with good health, this is one classy lineup.

Old, vulnerable, but classy. Like William Powell and Myrna Loy, like FDR, like baseball players of yore who wore their socks high and maybe beat their wives but those were more civilized days when the press didn't write about that private crap. Lenny Dykstra? Not classy. Then the moment we've all been waiting for:

Veteran leadership abounds with catcher Mike Matheny, shortstop Omar Vizquel, right fielder Moises Alou, second baseman Ray Durham and especially Morris, far better equipped than Jason Schmidt to be the spiritual, butt-kicking czar of the starting rotation.

That's odd. I thought veterans were old and vulnerable. And classy. The Giants had plenty of classy veteran leadership last year, even with their team mentor, wise, gentle Barry Bonds, stuck at home with a tube in his knee, singing songs of loss and love.

If you poked Bruce Jenkins in his sleep and told him he was on deadline, he'd make typing motions with his hands, mumble "veteran leadership," "classy guy," "Jim Ray Hart," "Joe Montana," "Pebble Beach," "knows how to win," then he'd roll over and start snoring.

Wait -- did he just write "spiritual, butt-kicking czar"? Did I put the wrong kind of mushrooms in my omelette this morning? In what universe do such czars exist? Is Bruce channeling Tony Robbins? Maybe this is a motivational ploy on the Giants' part: Schmidt woke up this morning, read that he lags behind Morris in the B.K.C. department, and vows to throw 96 mph again. Wait, there's more:

"Schmidt always seems to have something wrong with him; Morris tends to pitch through untold discomfort without telling anyone."

Forget that three-year run of dominance. Do you hear us, Jason Schmidt, fragile little man-boy? What is this "groin" you complain about? Everyone knows real men don't have groins, we have loins -- ergo, you must not be a real man!

Nobody's going to adequately replace Scott Eyre in middle relief, and that should be made clear right now.

Yes, sir. Clear, sir. Mr. Jenkins, may I just call you The Great Santini, sir? I wouldn't dare question your authority. After all, Eyre had one excellent year after a career of replacement, er, I mean irreplaceable-level relief pitching. And he was always available for a quote when certain hacks, er, columnists were on deadline. Irreplaceable, especially when he's being replaced by...

Nobody ever seems to know what Worrell is thinking, especially the Phillies, who employed him last year. About two months into last season, the ex-Giant asked to be placed on the disabled list to deal with "personal problems."

I wonder what Tim Worrell is thinking about right now? Is he looking out the window at the trees, or the waves, or the neighbor across the street? As a season ticket holder, I want to know. What about drilling in the ANWAR? Or that hot chick behind the first-base dugout? And "personal problems"? Classy guys don't have "personal problems"! He might as well complain of having a groin. If that's not bad enough...

Kline is the ultimate wacko out of the bullpen: brash, cocky, ready for a scrap. Managers love those guys, although perhaps we should exclude the Cardinals' Tony La Russa, who Kline brazenly flipped off during a heated moment in 2004. Once described by Sports Illustrated as "28 going on 14," Kline lists bad-guy wrestlers as his boyhood heroes.

Imagine: an athlete who's got too much attitude, a child in a man's body. Well, I never! Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee, keep that testosterone away from me! Those brash, cocky guys usually spell disaster, right, Bruce? Unless they're spelled B-O-N-D-S. Or K-E-N-T. I press on, like a man with a dull machete hacking through rain forest:

Still, behold the handiwork. The once-depressing Dodger lineup is suddenly loaded with "gamers": Rafael Furcal, Bill Mueller, Nomar Garciaparra, Kenny Lofton.

Snore, zzz, snarf, "gamers," "veterans," zzz. I can't believe he actually put it into quotes. Who is he quoting? Himself? Since Furcal has two DUIs and tried to talk his way out of the second by saying "I play for the Braves, can you give me a chance," does that make him an unclassy gamer?

Do I have to go on? I keep hearing about looming cutbacks at the Chron. Someone please give Jenkins the golden parachute.

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