For whatever reason, baseball players tend to be extraordinarily superstitious, and it’s not just the professional ones. When I was a Little Leaguer, I started developing a taste for idiosyncrasies I believed would coax the Baseball Gods onto my side.
By the time I got to high school, I employed a couple personal favorites as well as some of the old standards.
No stepping on the foul line, pre-game in the same order with the same teammate, no talking about a hot streak, no rocking a winning streak—you get the idea.
I’m far more superstitious when it comes to watching Major League Baseball, however. I firmly believe my presence at Pac Bell puts the San Francisco Giants into a huge karmic hole from which they rarely escape with victory intact. I also believe the fellas will never fight back from a deficit of five runs or more while I’m watching.
And there’s my cardinal rule—never, ever talk [expletive] when los Gigantes are rolling. Never, about anything related to San Francisco baseball...ever.
If any San Francisco fans are wondering what the hell happened to Barry Zito and the boys last night against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and San Diego, and apparently anything else south of Monterey, I’ll tell you.
I broke my cardinal rule.
See, I’m in a fantasy league with a buddy of mine from law school, and he’s a huge Dodger fan. Consequently, most of his friends are Bum fans, and since he’s the commish, the league has a considerable Dodger blue taint to it.
The league is also several years old.
Old enough to have most of the same members in it from the day Zito signed his monstrous contract, hopped across the Bay, and joined the National League. The same offseason Jason Schmidt inked his ill-fated and treacherous deal with La La Land’s NL club.
Schmidthead’s lead zeppelin of a contract was my only shield from the abuse heaped upon me by league members in the wake of Zito’s albatross. I used it as a sword.
I argued the former Giant ace wasn't healthy and—even when he was—his glory days were over, that Ned Colletti should’ve known this as Schmidt’s former assistant general manager, and—therefore—it was a worse move than bringing aboard the fading former Cy Young winner from Oakland.
This, naturally, only trebled the abuse, but I stuck with the argument—what else could I do, argue the sanity of Brian Sabean's decision?
Surely you jest.
Fast-forward to the present.
Schmidt's now in the final year of his contract, has just shut down his rehab because of a setback, and probably won't see the Big League diamond in 2009. That means the Dodgers got 25 innings, six starts, and one win for $47 million. In other words, I was right.
It only makes it sweeter that Zito has been pitching well in '09. So yeah, I was feeling my oats.
Yesterday, not even thinking about Zito’s forthcoming start against the Halos, good cheer got the better of me, and I chose to remind the league of our to-and-fro from that summer.
You could even say I did it uncharitably...
It looked like the Giants southpaw decided to remind everyone of that horrible summer as well.
Zito went 3.2 frames while surrendering 10 hits, seven earned runs, and two home runs, and he even threw in a vintage meltdown in the fourth inning just for good measure. Six of the seven crossed the plate, and the frame ended Zito’s night.
Of course, the Gents would chuck in a furious comeback. It would be stopped just short with equal predictability.
In the process, a display by Pablo Sandoval that must’ve left the home crowd speechless went to waste. I mean, two big flies in one game?
Holy lord, when’s the last time we’ve seen that by someone not named Bengie Molina? And they were BIG flies. Little Panda looks suspiciously like he’s found his power stroke.
Now, the Giants' win streak is over, and Zito's burgeoning confidence has to have a bit of a chink in it this morning.
Oh yeah, and I happen to be facing my law school buddy in the league's weekly head-to-head matchup. He had four players going yesterday to my one—Sandoval (whom he took about five rounds early just to taunt me), Mark DeRosa, Shin-Soo Choo, and Travis Hafner.
Four guys, and not a fearsome bunch.
They finished the day 10-19 with seven runs scored, five taters, 11 RBI, two swipes, and a .526 average.
My answer? Carl Pavano, who got torched, shockingly left in line for a win, and then had his bullpen cough it up via a grand slam to Prince Fielder.
Aaaah, yep [standing and stretching myself].
All in all, I'd say my work here is done.