October 19, 2012
NLCS Game Five Recap: Giants 5, Cardinals 0
Guess the MLB.com headline!
a. Giants Don't Feel Blue, Barry
These are terrible. They're all terrible because one of them (a terrible one!) is terribly real.
If the Giants win the World Series this year, it will be because Barry Zito pitched Game Five of the NLCS and pitched wonderfully. Sure, he was paid a billion dollars and had been terrible in his previous postseason start and had spent the previous six years acting like the mole in The Mole, but whatever. If the Giants win the World Series this year, it will be because of Barry Zito, and you know what? Maybe it’ll have all been worth it (as long as "it" doesn't literally mean "all the money he was paid).
It took a long time for Zito to have a signature moment as a Giant. He’s had opportunities, and he’s had some decent stretches, and he’s not—well, okay, I was going to say he’s not Mike Hampton, but Zito has produced 1.6 WARP as a Giant and Hampton produced 10.4 WARP during his eight-year contract, so never mind. Anyway, I can’t think of one spectacular Zito moment in his time as a Giant. Is there one? Here are, before tonight, what I would call his 10 most important starts as a Giant. Let’s see how he did in them:
10. Opening Day, 2007. To understand how much Barry Zito meant to the Giants, you have to understand this: they almost signed Carlos Lee for more than $100 million that offseason. Not only did Barry Zito have to live up to a huge contract, but he had to replace the value that the Giants would have received from Carlos Lee. Carlos Lee!
9. April 8, 2007. The first time Zito faced the Dodgers. Chad Billingsley came into the game as a reliever. Barry Zito has been a Giant for so long, guys.
8. April 3, 2011. The Giants were able to win the World Series without Zito on the postseason roster, but a team can’t go a whole season with only four starters; they needed Zito to step up for the 2011 season. He pitched the fourth game of the year against the Dodgers in a sold-out Dodger Stadium.
7. September 25, 2010. The Giants were a half-game up in the NL West with a week left in the season; the Rockies were hanging in at 3 1/2 games back. The Giants went to Colorado.
6. July 28, 2012. The Giants were two games up on the Dodgers as the trade deadline approached; the Giants had just added Marco Scutaro and the Dodgers had just added Hanley Ramirez, and there were plenty more trade rumors around each team.
5. September 5, 2009. The Giants hadn’t made the postseason since 2003, not entirely because of Barry Zito but not exactly in spite of him either. In September, however, they were 3 1/2 games behind the Rockies for the Wild Card.
4. Opening Day, 2008. You might not remember this, but Zito wasn’t the worst in his first season with the Giants. He wasn’t great, but it would take about five years before he would become the worst. In his first season (2007), he had a 99 ERA+. The rest of the staff wasn’t bad, but Matt Cain (team leader in WARP) had a 7-16 record, and Tim Lincecum was a rookie who made just 24 starts. So, the next year, Zito got the Opening Day start against the Dodgers.
3. NLDS Game Four, 2012. Zito's first postseason appearance as a Giant. He entered with a 3.24 career postseason ERA in seven starts.
2. In the 161st game of the year, with the Giants leading the Padres by two games and needing only one win, Zito got the start at home. Oh, boy, were there a lot of people who didn’t want Zito to get that start, but Zito got that start.
1. This one, right here, the one he just won. Haters.
So in his 10 biggest games: Six runs per nine innings, 1-5, Giants go 3-7. Whatever, none of that matters now, as long as the Giants win a World Series this year. Otherwise, he remains a miserable disaster.
A few notable responses:
Congratulations. We're all miserable now.