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Two days 'til...

One of the perks about being a blogger or columnist is manufactured outrage. By my count, baseball provides over 524,982 situations that make it reasonable to suggest that society is likely to crumble. The Clemens inquisition is one of those situations -- partly because no one expects the Clemens inquisition. But the Giants not really looking for a first baseman is something else that deserves a heaping spoonful of manufactured outrage. If you claim that I'm overreacting, all I have to do is point to my Blogger's Union membership card. Try not to pay attention to the fact that it's written in crayon.

That written, I also think that I'd prefer to read the same "Family Circus" panel for an hour than read 95% of columnists and bloggers who specialize in manufactured outrage. So when it comes to something as pointless as the opening day starter on a last-place team, I'll tread carefully. It really doesn't make a whit of difference to this team. If Matt Cain doesn't start opening day, he won't care. Heck, it might even motivate him more.

It's the idea that kills me. Barry Zito didn't earn the position of opening day starter. He unearned it over the first three months of last season. He was paid more money than any other pitcher in the game to perform like any other pitcher in the game. The second half he had last year made me optimistic -- really, it did -- but he was anything but an ace last season.

Handing Zito the opening day gig says:

  • Sorry, kids; tenure is more important than performance
  • We aren't paying this guy to be a #3
The philosophy trickles down to every part of the organization. Kevin Frandsen? Sorry, kid. Tenure is more important than performance, and we aren't paying Durham to sit on the bench. Fred Lewis? Sorry, kid. Tenure is more important than performance, and we aren't paying Dave Roberts to sit on the bench. Jonathan Sanchez? Tenure, performance, Russ Ortiz. It's the Decline and Fall of the Sabean Empire in two bullet points.

Bruce Bochy sat through every game last year. He saw Matt Cain pitch, and he saw Barry Zito pitch. If he makes Zito the opening day starter, it will speak volumes about where the Giants really are in the rebuilding process. Unless it doesn't, that is. It will give an indication that we shouldn't expect to see much of Fred Lewis, Nate Schierholtz or Kevin Frandsen. Unless it gives no such indication, and I'm making too much out of a meaningless decision that hasn't even been made yet. I will write this: I watched just about every Zito start last year, and thoughts of award and special recognition never crossed my mind.

Society will crumble, though. In a few years, when you're climbing over a pile of bodies to drink puddle water -- thrilled to even get that chance -- remember the 2008 opening day starter decision.