As the game tonight against the Dodgers comes to end so does that of Barry Zito. His tenure as a San Francisco Giant will be over. Despite rumors that Zito would not get another start, Bruce Bochy shows what a class act the Giants are by giving him one last start at home.
Sep 2, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito (75) throws during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
What does $127MM buy you these days?
In 2007, the Giants made Zito the highest paid pitcher in MLB. Maybe it was a fetish with people whose first names are Barry, after all the previous Barry did pretty remarkable things. However, Zito’s start as a Giant was less than stellar. After spending seven years with the Oakland A’s and a 102-63 recrod with 3.55 ERA, Zito’s first year with the Giants yielded an 11-13 record with a 4.53 ERA. It did not get much better from there until what most Giants fans consider his best year in 2012.
What changed in 2012?
Well, run support! Zito did not pitch better in 2012. He had an ERA of 4.15 which matched most of his career in SF, although it was one of his better years. It also helped that the Giants had an offense that led the league in many categories. There are three games in 2012 that define Zito as a pitcher and a legend:
The first game was his first game of the season in Colorado. This was the fourth game of the season and had started the season 0-3. Zito came into Colorado and shocked the world with a complete game 4 hit shutout. He got the first win for the Giants incredible 2012 World Series run.
The next game that comes to mind is Game 5 of the NLCS. After the Giants fell behind the Cardinals 1-3, Zito calmed the storm and threw 6.2 IP and scattered 6 hits and 0 runs. He also had an RBI in the game too.
The last game that comes to mind is Game 1 of the 2012 World Series. While the game hero was Pablo Sandoval. Talk about your David versus Goliath stories; 100 mph flame throwing Justin Verlander vs. 84 mph old washed up Barry Zito. As I much as I wanted the Giants to win every game, even I thought this one was impossible. But Goliath went down and David won this fight too. Zito threw 5.2 IP of 6 H, ER ball. I think everyone in San Francisco was thinking dynasty, if Zito could continue on this path.
End of an ERA
The end is coming for Zito. Zito was a good Giant in terms of character with his charities Strike Out for Troops and being a good influence in the clubhouse. In 2011, when the Giants weren’t playing well and the front office decided to cut two players Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand many thought Zito was next. Yes, his contract was more than Rowand and Tejada’s but, clearly he wasn’t contributing on the field. However, many thought he was the next to go. The Giants saw that he was the eldest pitcher on the pitching staff and probably had good influences on Cain, Lincecum and Bumgarner then chose to continue the contract.
No matter what happens at the end of this game (presently in the third inning), Zito will get a standing ovation but not for years of being good pitcher, he’ll get an ovation for being good one year with two stellar post season starts and a pretty good 2012 season.
Goodbye Barry Zito you’ll be missed as a humanitarian.