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Why can’t Giants land a big one?

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I realize I’m fortunate. When I wake up in the morning, right outside my door, I’m able to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the greatest city in the world.

Thousands of tourists pour on and off cable cars downtown. There’s the hustle of big-time money being made in the Financial District.

I believe I live in one of the most important cities in the world, a metropolis that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of New York, Paris, London and Rome.

So why is it that every time I hear about the Giants and their forays into free agency, I feel like I’m stuck in a roadside truck stop somewhere between Fresno and Bakersfield?

The Giants offer a contract to Alfonso Soriano, but are blown off the radar by the Chicago Cubs and their gazillion-dollar offer. They reportedly decide to build around center fielder Juan Pierre, only to be left splashing in the wake of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then Gary Matthews Jr. chooses the Los Angeles Angels over the boys in black and orange. What gives?

Not only that, if my math is correct, the team that finished 76-85, 11½ games behind, last year has lost a .300 hitter (Moises Alou signed with the New York Mets) and a key reliever (Mike Stanton, the Giants’ only reliable closer at the end of the season, signed with the Cincinnati Reds).

Now I respect fiscally conscious management as much as the next guy and it does feel like Major League Baseball has reached another patch of drunken sailor spending, but at some point, putting a winning team on the field comes down to thecost of talent. And each time the best available player is plucked off the free-agent shelf, the Giants have that much further between their roster and respectability.

With all due respect, the Giants’ present-day starting outfield of Randy Winn, Todd Linden and Jason Ellison reeks of the Kansas City Royals. Quite fitting, actually, because from the feel of things right now, the Giants’ offseason has the look of a barren Midwestern winter.

» I admit I’m one to toss something now and again during a televised sporting event, but last week I was as mad as I’ve been all year. And it is still with me.

First quarter of the Cal-Southern Cal football game, less than four minutes in, and Southern Cal defensive back Kevin Ellison cracks Bears wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a third-down pass play.

Didn’t anybody else think this hit warranted tossing Ellison out of the game? It was a helmet-to-helmet hit with Jackson not looking, so vicious it took Jackson’s helmet off.

And not a word was said about how wrong that play was. If a hit like that is not illegal in college football, then there’s something wrong.

» Keep one eye on Bay Meadows this week because the Bay Area’s Russell Baze is about to set one of the most amazing records in all of sports. One that puts him up there with the likes of Wayne Gretzky (goals), Hank Aaron (home runs) and Jerry Rice (touchdowns) as a competitor.

Not only that, when Russell passes Laffit Pincay Jr. to become the winningest jockey of all time, he will hold the record that comes with the most peril in all of sports, a mark that, on every ride, saw Baze sidestep the threat of broken bones, crippling injuries, even death.

A Bay Area sports fan has to marvel that over the last 25 years he or she has seen the likes of Montana, Rice, Young and Baze be the best at what they do.

Tim Liotta hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).

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