As is now national news, Barry Zito has accepted an assignment with the Oakland Athletics’ new Triple-A affiliate the Nashville Sounds.
I love him for that. It proves he truly has a passionate for the game. That’s inspirational that a former Cy Young Award winner would take a spot in the minors? I know that there are many that wouldn’t stoop so low or at least that is how it seems.
I don’t see it as “stooping low,” – what I see is a genuine love for the game and that makes me love Zito.
It wouldn’t be my first love affair with Barry Zito. That began in 2000, I was 19 years old and interning at KTVU, a tv station that used to broadcast the A’s. It was the first time I was really looking at prospects and minor leaguers as opposed to just knowing who was on what team, etc.
I liked Zito. A lot. I thought his 12-6 curveball was amazing as his strike out pitch. 2000-2002, the year he won his Cy Young Award, were great for me and Zito! I was a big fan. But if you were paying attention to the A’s between 2003-2006 you wouldn’t think of Zito as an elite pitcher.
And let’s be honest, only A’s fans really pay attention to the A’s.
For a long time you’d have the “‘good Zito” and the “bad Zito.” It took only the first inning of the game to figure out. He’d either throw his curve for strikes or not. If he did you know he’d have a fine outing. If he didn’t throw the curve for strikes in the first inning, the game was practically over before it had even started.
Yes, he made the All-Star team in 2006 and is permentantly attached to the words Cy and Young, so the San Francisco Giants gave Zito a seven year contract during which they realized what every A’s fan already knew, he was inconsistent as hell.
He was left off the 2010 postseason roster, he did do well in the 2012 World Series but that was the only good moment of that year for Zito. I’ve mentioned before that people REALLY should be paying more attention to the A’s. They still don’t but now I see that as everyone else’s problem.
But when Zito went to the Giants I wasn’t heartbroken, I was pissed. He, like Tim Hudson, have been dead to me since the day they joined with the “dark side.” I hated Zito! HATED HIM!!! And in ways I kind of still do.
Going to the Giants just for money is an unforgivable offense in my book. The only one recently at least that gets a pass is Marco Scutaro – but my love of Scutaro story can be for another day …. I’m still on the topic of Zito.
So I loved Zito in my early 20’s and hated Zito in my late 20’s. Now he’s won back some of my respect. It’s a scary feeling rooting against someone for so long and to suddenly see him in a different light is pretty weird.
Today Barry Zito proved that he truly loves the game of baseball. I for one, honestly thought that he’d turn down any minor league position but I was wrong. I find him pitching for the Nashville Sounds to be some what of a breath of fresh air in a sometimes dark baseball world.
I may never forgive him for being a Giant but I’ve found a happy medium between hate and actual like …. such is my love-hate relationship with Zito.
(Talk about complicated when you’ve only met the guy briefly and are going straight on baseball performance and allegiances.)