Orange and Black getting too gray

So they’ve gone and done it. The Giants are apparently bringing Barry Bonds back to the party at AT&T Park, and I’ve got to admit I’m not thrilled. I was looking forward to the next chapter of Giants baseball, not re-living the last chapter for another six months.

The Old-Guys-Around-Barry philosophy lives for 2007. Crap.

Oh, sure, Rich Aurilia returns. Nice guy, but a utility player at best. Pedro Feliz and Ray Durham give the Giants’ lineup a feeling of continuity, but is anybody really jumping up and down? Bengie Molina is a newface who will handle the bulk of the catching duties, but this is a Giants roster taking another step backward from the last one.

Doesn’t it feel like the Giants manage to soften their lineup year after year, bit by bit, inch by inch. Where Jeff Kent used to bat, a spot manned by Moises Alou last year, now finds Ray Durham as the most likely candidate. Every year since 2002, another step backward.

I know Brian Sabean will keep trying to add players to this rendition of the Giants, but, until there’s a bona fide power hitter safely postered in the Orange and Black, this team looks more and more like a classic rock band that refuses to acknowledge that its lead singer can’t hit the high notes any more.

To say the least, I’m not looking forward to baseball season.

J.T. SNOW: At the other end of the emotion spectrum was my reaction to J.T. Snow retiring. After hearing the news, I listened to some highlights of his defensive play from some old Giants broadcasts, and every time Jon Miller or Duane Kuiper gushed over one of Snow’s defensive plays it reminded me of something I’d forgotten.

Watching J.T. Snow play first base was every bit as exciting and rewarding as watching Barry Bonds step into the batter’s box. Snow was the best I’ve ever seen in terms of a defensive first baseman.

Whether it was a neat backhand stab of a hot grounder or his patented bent-kneed smothering of a laser beam his way or one of those meandering trips through foul ground in pursuit of a foul pop-up, every moment J.T. Snow was in a defensive position was special.

No matter who plays first base for the Giants, it will never be the same.

COACH DEFLECTS CRITICISM: Let me ask you this: If the Warriors had lost back-to-back games in the atrocious manner they did in San Antonio and Houston at the start of the week, and if Mike Montgomery was still thehead coach, would there have been an avalanche of criticism? Not so with Nellie.

Don Nelson is basketball’s version of the Teflon Man. He’s never blamed for anything. I realize he’s a Hall of Fame basketball coach, and as talented as anyone who has a similar job, but there comes a point where a basketball fan has to say, “It was Nellie’s team that played as crummy as a professional basketball team can play.”

Which leads me to wonder how long it’s going to take Warriors fans to realize this Warriors team is no better than the one that Mike Montgomery coached last year. In fact, look back at last year’s first month of the season. Montgomery’s Warriors played better.

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

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