One Man's Opinion
by Glenn Dickey
Apr 14, 2005

LOCAL WRITERS have praised the Giants’ Edgardo Alfonzo for his improved conditioning, which is code for, “He isn’t hog-fat this year.”

I have a different take: Why didn’t he get in shape before? Alfonzo signed a four-year contract for $26 million before the 2003 season. Wouldn’t you have thought that he’d want to show up in shape for his new employers?

Instead, he showed up with a roll of fat around his middle, which was an important reason he didn’t pull the ball much the past two seasons. He couldn’t get the bat past his stomach. Giants announcer Mike Krukow, always one to find the bright side for the Giants, praised Alfonzo for his ability to hit to the off-field. In truth, it was because he was late on the fast ball.

Alfonzo, who had hit as many as 25 home runs in 2000 for the New York Mets, has had only 24 combined in his two Giants’ season. Question: Which Alfonzo do you think the Giants would have preferred, the one hitting 25 home runs or the off-field hitter he’s been the last two seasons? Third base is supposed to be a power position, but it hasn’t been for the Giants with Alfonzo there.

Alfonzo claims he only lost 5-7 pounds in the offseason, but those who have seen him in the clubhouse are guessing more like 15 pounds.

Meanwhile, the Giants paid him $6.5 million a year to be self-indulgent. There’s no better example of what’s wrong with guaranteed contracts in baseball.

WHAT’S NEW? Brett Tomko has lost his first two starts. Kirk Rueter has been Kirk Rueter. Having Rueter as the No. 2 starter is a bad joke. Tomko has the pitches to be a big winner, but not the head. He’s never put together a full year of solid pitching. Doesn’t look any different this year.

WAIT A MINUTE: Giants fans got excited about their team when the Giants swept the sad-sack Colorado Rockies last weekend, but reality struck when they hit the Dodgers this week.

It’s reminiscent of last season when the Giants’ record was better than they deserved because they were playing in the same division as the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, easily the worst team in baseball when Randy Johnson wasn’t pitching. Because scheduling emphasizes divisional games, as it should, nearly one-quarter of the Giants’ schedule was against those two teams. That enabled them to stay in the postseason race until they were beaten out by the Dodgers on the final day, but it doesn’t mean they were deserving of being there.

This year, it will be tougher. The Rockies are as bad as ever, but the Diamondbacks are much improved. Local writers scorn the Dodgers, but they’ve beaten the Giants, without Barry Bonds and Moises Alou, four straight after the Opening Day loss. I still think the Padres, who have the best-balanced team, will be the main competition within the division.

Until Bonds returns, the Giants will struggle. They can’t play the Rockies forever.

JOHN McENROE was at his biting best as he was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday night. McEnroe started with jabs at the Giants old lineup, saying they’d all be eligible for the Hall by next year, and said that, as a New Yorker and Mets fan, watching Armando Benitez blow a save for the Giants Tuesday night “made me feel right at home.”

Referring to an earlier statement by dinner chairman Duncan Matteson that “Sports teaches kids to be gracious winners and quiet losers,” McEnroe said, “What the hell am I doing here?”

McEnroe closed by saying that he felt honored to be inducted. “It’s an ego boost,” he said. “My head is as big right now as Barry Bonds.”

Steve Young had his moments, too.

Young recalled a game when he first came to the 49ers and changed the play at the line of scrimmage. He rolled out and threw to Jones, but the pass went far over Jones’s head and into the hands of Jerry Rice.

When he came off the field, Bill Walsh asked him how he knew Rice would be there, because Jerry was not the intended receiver. “I guess I’m just a natural, coach,” Young said.

In all, it was a great evening for a great cause, raising money for youth sports programs, and Mark McGwire wasn’t missed for a moment.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Ken Margerum, who played for Bill Walsh at Stanford in Walsh's first coaching stint at the school, is now offensive coordinator for San Jose State. Though teams which have adopted Walsh's system have often made changes in it, Margerum promises that his system will be the pure one.

"Everything we do will come right out of Bill's playbook at Stanford," he said. As offensive coordinator for two NFL Europe teams, Margerum did the same - and his teams set offensive records.

Margerum was an assistant at Stanford last season. He should have been the offensive coordinator, but head coach Buddy Teevens didn't have a clue.

The always outspoken Margerum disses Teevens but praises new Stanford coach Walt Harris. "He knows what he's doing. This year, when a linebacker is blitzing, he'll know to have a 'hot' receiver for the quarterback to throw to, instead of having a seven-step drop that gets the quarterback killed."

GOOD READ: "My Heroes," by James Rebollini, has the complete statistics for Pacific Coast League stars from the '30s, '40s and '50s. I went immediately to Johnny Barrett's listing. Barrett, who had played in the majors earlier, was a post-World War II star for the Padres. He lived just a couple of blocks from my home and would come out and talk to me when I showed up on his doorstep. Great stuff. That was when I thought baseball was king and players were gods. Some writers still do.

For information on book purchase, go on line to www.carnerosgroup.com or call (707) 935-0326.

LET HIM PLAY, MIKE: Second-year player Mickael Pietrus has responded in a big way for the Warriors when he’s gotten enough playing time – 19 points in 29 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. He’s a star in the making, a superb defender who is just starting to reach his offensive potential, but coach Mike Montgomery needs to keep giving him the playing time that will allow him to develop.

What do YOU think? Let me know!

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