Liotta: Star power dims for Bay Area fans

Suddenly, being a big Bay Area sports star doesn’t look like much fun. In fact, it looks like it is going to be downright painful the next couple of years.

With the unceremonious shoving of Barry Bonds into the Bay Area sunset still dancing in our heads, Baron Davis and Barry Zito step forward as two of The City’s biggest stars and they are obviously wobbling badly in that spotlight.

First, Davis. With 24 minutes left to breathe life into the Warriors’ playoff chances, Davis was benched. The reason was simple. Davis had played awful in the first 24 minutes.

Not the first time in a key point down the stretch this season for the Warriors’ point guard. Either from too many minutes or too many years. Regardless of which, that fact has been shoved directly into his face. So now we wonder, “What will Don Nelson do with Baron Davis next season?”

The point guard who used to dictate the Warriors’ game to the opposition must now rekindle that magic or else he’ll spend key moments next season sitting on the bench collecting more than $17 million.

Don Nelson doesn’t care. To Nelson, it’s simple. If Davis can help the Warriors win, he’ll play. If he can’t, he’ll watch. Just like the final 24 important minutes of this season. And if Nelson decides Davis can’t cut it, watching him collect $17 million will descend into an excruciating exercise of waiting for garbage time.

Which leads us to Zito, who is 38 starts into his tenure as the Giants’ ace. He’s posted an 11-17 record with an ERA slightly above 4.50 — every bit worthy of being the fourth starter for the Kansas City Royals.

No matter, Zito is still owed more than $100 million on that wonderful contract offered by the Giants. Judging from things so far, Zito will have to walk out to that mound every five days over the next six seasons knowing that, in order to collect that money, he’ll get his brains beat out.

Not a pretty picture for either man.

Random thoughts:

» One last Masters reflection. It felt like the final round during which nothing happened.

» No matter how the year goes for a sports fan, April always reminds this one that the Stanley Cup playoffs are riveting. Every year. Sheer grit and determination.

» The evolution of Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins into rock-solid NBA players are the two most convincing pieces of evidence that the Warriors are in good hands with Chris Mullin.

» It’s official. The NFL draft has gone off the chart. ESPN is televising workouts by draft-eligible players. Like we get some insight into their NFL worthiness.

Might be the biggest waste of television time since “Battle of the Network Stars.”

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

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