Do you remember being excited about rooting for a Giant named Barry? I remember getting stoked about the idea that the Giants now had two Barrys to root for.
As one Barry faded into the San Francisco mist, another joined the team. Heralded as the face of the franchise, we threw benjamins at his feet, and lined his wallet something thick.
Circa 2007: "Oh we just signed Barry Zito from the A's??" Fist pump!
Isn't it amazing what four years can do to a sentiment? I think in Zito's case, one half season proved to be enough time to deflate any would be parade balloons.
Enough with the name game, let's get down to brass tacks.
Barry Zito is a Cy Young Award winner, who enjoyed success as a left-handed starting pitcher in Oakland. He began his stint in Oakland in 2000. Now 10 years ago isn't exactly considered Jurassic for a pitcher, but if your last winning record was posted four years ago, you are maybe a little petrified.
Zito's contract is as we all know, ridiculous. Even if he performed at respectable level, like I don't know hmm...say a positive win/loss record for once—it just isn't worth that kind of money. It's not Barry's fault he got paid national deficit numbers, so we'll try to see past that and look at what he brings to the table:
- He's got a blistering fastball (84 mph - downhill in a hurricane) that would stymie most batting cage goers in any amusement park.
- Add location to that fastball that is unpredictable (to everyone) and it's just dangerous (wild pitch).
- A changeup who refuses to change. Even after Dear Barry letters from GM Brian Sabean.
- His curveball once called a 12-6 in prehistoric times, has so much bite, it doesn't even have to show us its movement.
- His pitches are most of the time just too intimidating (intimidatingly bad) for hitters to even offer a swing. They need a walk to clear their minds, straight to first base.
- A spiritual zeal that any would be a welcome addition to green party/dungeons and dragons club.
- And finally, the high socks look. A nod to players of previous generation. Striped socks were added to instill fear and confusion (look at a spinning barber sign long enough...) into the hearts of batters.
It's no secret that Barry has been miserable with his turmoil. I applaud the guy for keeping a humbled brow and taking ownership of his failure. So he wears big boy pants, and admits to his faults, does this mean we keep giving him another try? This is pennant race baseball, not bring your kid to work day.
It was tough enough to watch Zito implode when not so much was riding on it. We took that like it was an acceptable level of disgust, displeasing but not abhorrent.
Better or worse—Zito began the 2010 season pitching lights out. He had a 5-0 start right out of the gate. Supposedly the best start of his career. We all began to pull for him.
He even had an ERA under 3.00. Did the stars align correctly? Did he get a new sea-horse? He then sported 6-2 in ten starts. Nice! Finally! Right? (insert whoopee-cushion sound)
Just as quickly as the house of cards was built, it blew down. Zito would go on to win only one game in June, and one in July. He has not seen a win since.
Since July 16th he has lost eight out of 11 games. Six of those losses are consecutive, and to date. What's worse is that in those three games where he has a no-decision, the Giants won. Smacks of "just get this dude outta here, we'll do the rest Coach."
Yes I am being hard on the guy. Maybe some of this angst should be redirected at manager Bruce Bochy or Sabean for sticking with him. But isn't blaming a committee a little apathetic? Besides that, Zito did show us he can pitch this year, and pitch well.
Where is it when we need it most? This is not the time of year to be messing around. Get it done, or get gone.
Tonight Barry Zito will face the Dodgers. The Dodgers are not in contention, but they do stand in between us and the vital wins needed to win the NL West. The Dodgers would love nothing more than to torpedo our playoff chances.
Zito is 6-7 against the Dodgers lifetime, with an ERA of 4.01. I would love nothing more for him to make me sorry I ever wrote this piece. Come on Barry, don't Zito us! Not now!