Leah Garchik Loves Barry Zito

September 19, 2007

The image “http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/barry-bonds-2-3.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

… Or Barry Zito has a very good publicist.

To wit, here is part of the Chronicle columnist’s article today:

Meanwhile, photographs by pitcher Barry Zito (quickly becoming a boldface regular) are featured in the first issue of the Men’s Book, San Francisco magazine’s new periodical offspring. Two of the pitcher’s shots are of himself, one’s a woman pulling down her dress and the third’s a teammate in what appears to be the bathroom. “If his pitches miss the mark on game day, he has the lens to fall back on,” says the magazine.

And the following excerpt was in yesterday’s column:

Montblanc is making a series of special edition pens, the sale of each (for $615) to include $149 to be donated to UNICEF. Famous individuals from all around the country are donating their signatures to be engraved on these pens. The Bay Area’s chosen personality – drum roll begins here and gets louder – is Barry Zito.

And two weeks ago, during the Barry Bonds ceremony, guess who had a cameo?

Despite this season’s showing, the honoree’s teammates, who arrived together in a bus, strolled in to awestruck gasps, and Barry Zito was immediately surrounded by admirers. I asked if he minded that by the time he’d become a Giant, the team, the “Bar-ree, Bar-ree” chant had been taken. “I think I got Zito,” he said. “Two syllables, that works.” That “admirers” is meant literally; he’s rock-star handsome with a kind of mane of shiny brown hair. “Great use of gel,” I said to my pal S.C. “Great use of genetics,” she said.

Conclusion: Barry Zito is a PR machine and Leah Garchik hearts him.

And here we thought that he had shed his “Rick Vaughn from Major League 2″ status. Is it possible that we were … wrong?


The Giants And Zito Are Thriving In The Post-756 Era

August 28, 2007

The scruffy Barry Zito didn’t get the win, but the Giants beat the Rockies for their fifth win in a row while Zito continued his hot streak: seven innings, four hits, one run, seven k’s and perhaps most importantly, just one lone walk.

The Giants, in the midst of a stretch that sees them playing 30 games in 31 days, are easily playing their best ball of the year, which makes us wonder just how much of an effect the Bonds Home Run Extravaganza Circus Fun Time had on the team.

Some number-crunching:

  • Pre-756, the Giants had a .432 winning percentage (48-63).
  • Post-756, the Giants have a .571 winning percentage (12-9).
  • Pre-756 Zito averages (24 appearances): 5.5 innings per game, 3.16 earned runs, 3.67 strikeouts, 2.62 walks
  • Post-756 Zito averages (four starts): 7.0 innings per game, 1.5 earned runs, 5.75 strikeouts, 1.5 walks
  • Pre-756 Zito ERA: 5.13
  • Post-756 Zito ERA: 1.92
  • Pre-756 Matt Cain ERA (22 starts): 3.93
  • Post-756 Matt Cain ERA (four starts): 2.33
  • Pre-756 Barry Bonds: .277 average, 22 HR in 384 plate appearances (17.45:1)
  • Post-756 Barry Bonds: .352 average (12-34), 5 HR in 50 plate appearances (10:1)

Obviously, the sample sizes should be acknowledged, but considering that the recent surges have come against playoff contenders (Atlanta, Milwaukee, Chicago, Colorado) in the doldrums of the dog days of summer, there’s something here (optimism?) nonetheless.

Giants turn it up in eighth to beat Rockies, win 5th straight [ESPN]

Earlier: A New Bearded Wonder [Say Hey]

[Photo Courtesy: Official Site]


A New Bearded Wonder, An Old Barry Unearthed!

August 23, 2007

The KNBR Morning Show pointed this out earlier today, but we thought we’d share the photographic evidence: Barry Zito’s recent surge/success/sprezzatura is almost decidedly a result of his newly-grown beard. Last night, he tossed yet another gem (eight innings, two runs) against the first-place Cubbies. Of course, the Giants still managed to blow it, but Zito clearly (hopefully) has his confidence back.

And you know why?

The Beard brings Swagger.

We saw what it did to Baron and the Boys during that magical playoff run.

Think about it. Last week, we spent some time comparing the 2007 Giants with the team from Major League. You fabulous commenters, however, made the best call of the day: pairing Barry Zito with the yuppified version of Rick Vaughn from Major League 2. Perfect fit, right? Right.

Well now, just like the end of the sequel, the Wild Thing version of Barry Zito has returned.

For Rick Vaughn, it took a leather vest, zigzag haircut and orange glasses.

For Barry Zito, it just took a shaggy beard for him to rediscover the free-wheeling, guitar-strumming, always-smiling Barry Zito everyone knows and loves.

We missed you Barry. Welcome back.

(Bonus: Here’s the video clip where the Wild Thing returns. It’s in Italian, but since everyone knows the lines anyway, it makes it even better.)

[Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Ben Margot]


Giants Roundup: Adventures In Dodgerland Begin Tonight!

July 31, 2007

The image “http://www.dodgerblues.com/images/gagne-tucker.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Despite the Giants’ firm grasp on last place, the Dodgers’ success, Brad Penny’s 13-1, 2.51 line, the Bonds fiasco reaching its boiling point and Ray Durham’s reluctance to return our fan letters, we are really looking forward to this three-game set. Maybe it’s because we need a break from the Dog Days of Summer. Maybe it’s because the odds say the Giants gotta beat the Dodgers sometime.

Nah, it’s just that whole Giants-Dodgers thing.

  • On September 17, 1997, Barry Bonds’ now-famous “twirl home run” knocked the Dodgers out of the race and scarred them for nearly ten beautiful years. [LA Times]
  • Barry might not play tonight, which would really piss off Dodger fans. [SFGate]
  • On August 2nd, before the series finale, the Dodgers will hold a two-hour pregame steroid awareness clinic on the field for youngsters. Subtle AND classy, those Dodgers. [100% Injury Rate]
  • What if … the Giants had moved to Tampa in ’92? [The Sporting Orange, via Deadspin]
  • We’re not the only Zito Apologists out there! [El Lefty Malo]
  • Rod Beck’s family received a very warm welcome in the Bay this weekend. [ESPN]
  • A-Rod isn’t exactly a lock to break the record that everyone thinks he is. But he likes strippers. So he’s got that going for himself. Which is nice. [100% Injury Rate]
  • Even though the A’s and Giants appear to be in similar dire straits, Bruce Jenkins thinks Oakland is in a much, much better position. We’re inclined to agree. [SFGate]
  • An open letter to Jay Mariotti, who called Giants fans “unconditionally glorifying sheep.” [McCovey Chronicles]
  • On Sunday, Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci wrote that hitting number 756 outside of San Francisco would be a disaster. So, about that … [SI]
  • Oh, and Buddy Boy will be in attendance tonight. [ESPN]
  • BREAKING: Matt Morris traded to Pittsburgh for speedy centerfielder Rajai Davis. [MSNBC]

Clip Of The Day: Barry Zito Sings

July 25, 2007

Insert your “Barry Zito is like Richie Valens because they both crashed-and-burned once they got paid” joke at your own eternal peril.

Anyway, here’s BZ singin’ the Beatles.

[Note: We can't really tell if it's Barry Zito. But the youtubes wouldn't lie to us twice in one title, would they?]


The Zito Apologist: Second Half MVP? Cy Young?

July 18, 2007

http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/images/2007/03/31/QnLpotYu.jpgDear Bay Area Fans,

Seven innings. Two runs. Zero walks. 81 strikes, 109 pitches.

“That’s how I pitch when I am who I am.”

With yesterday’s dominating victory over the red-hot Chicago Cubs (despite the best efforts of the Giants’ anemic bats), we feel completely comfortable saying that Barry Zito will have an outstanding bounceback second half. His record currently stands at 7-9; we predict 16 wins.

Here’s to launching the Zito Re-Bandwagon. Get excited. Is it possible to have the best starting pitching in the league but still be the worst team in the league? We’re about to find out.

Sincerely,
The Zito Apologist

P.S. The Giants are currently getting slammed by the Cubbies. Matt Cain is the new Barry Zito. And Barry Zito is the new Matt Cain.


Giants Roundup: Worst. Train Wreck. Ever.

July 17, 2007

bonds.jpgAs you might be able to tell, ever since the Dodgers swept the Giants this weekend (giving them 11 wins in a row at Pac Bell), we’ve been kind of avoiding discussing the slow torture that is your 2007 Giants, which is odd because usually train wrecks are fascinating and completely watchable. In any event, here’s the Giants news, divided into two distinct halves, because if you’re anything like us, you have days where you’re tired of the Bonds coverage.

Bondsian Section:

  • Barry Bonds has not started in any of the ESPN-televised games this season. Coincidence? [Epic Carnival]
  • Jesse Jackson and Barry Bonds prayed together. Oddly enough, they both asked God for Apple iPhones. [SFGate]
  • When it comes to lady companions, Derek Jeter is jealous of Barry Bonds? As Jessica Alba, Mariah Carey and Jessica Biel as evidence, we’re gonna go with a simple “no.” [NY Daily News, via The Big Lead]
  • Those screweverybody.com idiots are getting more press. Someone light Bill Simmons on fire. [SFGate]

Non-Bondsian Section:


Non-Bondsian Second Half Storylines

July 12, 2007
  • Brian Sabean: will he stay or will he go? [Note: there is much better reading about the Sabean issue over at McCovey Chronicles. We are mere mortals.]
  • Will Barry Zito continue to be a richer, suckier version of Shawn Estes?
  • Will there be a veteran firesale at the trade deadline?
  • Will someone–anyone–decide to be good at “offense”?
  • Will Bengie Molina’s intensity finally boil over, leading to a triple-homicide in the Giants’ clubhouse?
  • Will Fred Lewis finally change his name to Michael Tucker?
  • Will Bruce Bochy resurrect his mustache?
  • Will someone How many people will die of boredom/frustration after watching Pedro Feliz ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play?
  • Speaking of Pete Happy, will this finally be Pedro Feliz’s breakout year?
  • Will Matt Cain have a sub-3.00 ERA and 20 losses?
  • Will the Giants make the playoffs? Oops, we mean …

Feel free to add your own. Thank “god” sports return tonight.


All-Star News Roundup

July 10, 2007

Lots of baseball news from the around the Bay today, so here’s a nice big linkdump.

  • Barry Bonds is always fun when he holds press conferences while on his happy pills. There’s a plethora of gems in Scott Ostler’s article in the Chronicle today, including his take on whether making the All-Star team is vindication against critics: “No. No, not at all. Not one bit. I’m gonna have the best time of my life. I’ve had the best time in San Francisco, can’t be better, best relationships on the planet, these people I grew up with, you can’t turn my friends against me, people in this town grew up together, we’re deeper than just me and a uniform, way deeper.” Aw shucks, Barry! [SFGate]
  • Bud Selig has finally said that he will attend the record-breaking game. [Deadspin]
  • Lots of local boys will be front and center tonight: Dan Haren, starting pitcher for the American League squad, is very happy to be included in the party. [SFGate]
  • A’s fans are thinking that they should have seen this coming. [Athletics Nation]
  • Rich “the new Mark Prior”Harden isn’t so good at rehabbing. [The FanHouse]
  • Barry Zito didn’t have the “best” first half possible. He “struggled” mightily. So the Giants will drop their Opening Day starter to the fifth slot in the rotation. [The FanHouse]
  • Here’s the real story about that guy who ran on the field to hug Barry Bonds. Turns out he wasn’t a bum. Just a hippie! [100% Injury Rate]
  • It’s kind of weird to think that tonight will be the first time that Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr will share an outfield. [ESPN]
  • The Giants seem to be on the short list of possible destinations for A-Rod. [NY Daily News]
  • OK, kayaking in the cove was hip like five years ago. We get it. [Page 2]
  • Who are the top 10 Giants of all time? [McCovey Chronicles]
  • We’re starting to sense that Jerry Rice likes to stay busy. [SFGate]
  • Oh, and chalk up the above video to the new phenom unearthed by Deadspin.

The Zito Apologist: Any Day Now, Things Will Turn Around

June 21, 2007

http://msunderestimated.com/BarryZito.jpg

When it rains, it pours. Clearly, Barry Zito and the Giants are no exception to this centuries-old maxim. Now, the correct easy thing to do would be to say Zito has not lived up to his Brobdingnagian contract in a terribly joyless season that somehow continues to ceaselessly sink deeper and deeper into a fathomless abyss of doom.

Sure, Zito gave up six runs in four innings yesterday, including four runs after five batters. Sure, this is the third consecutive start in which he’s failed to reach the sixth inning. Sure, he’s given up 15 earned runs in his last 13 innings pitched. Sure, Henry Schulman called yesterday’s outing “a baseball disaster.”

But it’s a team game, people. One man cannot turn this team around. It needs to be a team effort, as baseball is the ultimate team game. The good news is that the media focus is off Zito now. A crummy start is no longer news; hell, it’s expected. That’s just what he wants. Remember: the A’s were always a second-half team, and this is still the first half of the season. Any day, Barry Zito will become the Cy Young winner we know and love. And by “know and love,” we mean “are paying a billion dollars.”

Right? Right?

Bitter end to S.F.’s abysmal road trip [SFGate]


Giants Roundup: And The Winning Streak Starts … Now.

June 8, 2007
  • Hey, lookee who won a close game! [SFGate]
  • Bruce Bochy has been letting Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum throw an awful lot of innings. Can someone say Mark Prior/Kerry Wood? Cue the uncomfortable smile and nervous laugh. [SI]
  • Russ Ortiz and the disabled list are starting to become good friends; yesterday, the veteran righty was placed on the 15-day DL. Someone needs to drink more milk. The good news is that Jonathan Sanchez is back. We heart him. What? [ESPN]
  • Hank Aaron would rather not relinquish his record. [ESPN]
  • The San Jose Mercury‘s Tim Kawakami will cut Brian Sabean. He ain’t even bullshittin’. [SJ Merc]
  • Speaking of straight shooters, Mama Bonds told her controversy-saddled son: “The Giants are losing because of the way you’re playing and you know it. So snap out of it … Nobody told you to be great, but you are. That’s your responsibility. So play like you are [great].” Ten bucks says Barry goes yard tonight. [The FanHouse]
  • That Mets clubhouse steroid deal is beginning to feel the pressure to name names; he already agreed to cooperate with the Mitchell investigation. For what it’s worth, Bonds has no connection to this scandal at this point. [NY Daily News]
  • There’s an RBI Baseball tournament in Ohio. We really enjoyed RBI Baseball. Vince Coleman was so fast. [Deadspin]
  • Barry Zito will get a shot a redemption when he faces the A’s and Dan Haren on Saturday. We’re fairly certain that our man BZ will lead the Gigantes to a glorious victory. Don’t blow it Zito. [SFGate]

Giants Roundup: “You Took Steroids! You Took Steroids!”

June 5, 2007
  • Phillies fans get really creative in their chants, as evidenced by the above video. [The FanHouse]
  • Mediocrity, thy name is the San Francisco Giants. The Gigantes continued to hover around .500 as Barry Zito escaped a shaky start with some clutch pitches as the Giants beat the Phillies 8-1 to split the four-game set. In his last three starts, Zito has gone 20 innings and only given up one earned run. If Zito turns into the ace of this staff, as originally expected, the Giants rotation would be downright scary. [SFGate]
  • This week’s “Barry Bonds is coming to town so let’s write an article about how he’s tainting the game” article comes from the Arizona Republic and says absolutely nothing original. Go on, read it. [Arizona Republic]
  • Russ Ortiz, fresh off his anointment as setup man, is now hurt. [SFGate]
  • Barry Bonds has one homerun in his last 61 at-bats. Compare that number with 11 homeruns in his first 76 at-bats of the year.
  • Zito is very good when he’s given a four-run cushion. Start producing, Fred Lewis. [100% Injury Rate]
  • The best pennant race is in the NL West, according to Page 2′s Jonah Keri. [ESPN]
  • On Thursday, Major League Baseball will conduct its annual draft. Representing your San Francisco Giants: Felipe Alou, Jack Hiatt and … early 90s backup catcher Steve Decker? [mlb.com]
  • It’s a power-pitching-fest tonight as Randy Johnson and Matt Cain face off in the desert. [SFGate]

Barry Zito Is Number One!

May 24, 2007

Our main man–and Hilary Duff “companion”–Barry Zito got ranked number one in an ESPN article!

Too bad it’s the list of most overrated players in the major leagues, according to baseball writer/god Jason Stark (we mean that literally–Stark knows his stuff). Here’s what Stark had to say on the matter:

As I said in the book, “overpaid” isn’t always the same thing as “overrated.” But it definitely works in Zito’s case.

Not that it’s some kind of disgrace for any team to say it employs this guy. Never misses a start. Logs those innings. Snaps off those picturesque curveballs. Leads the league in likability. And we admire him for all of those qualities.

But should he really be the proud owner of the most humongous pitching contract in history (seven years, $126 million)? For all those who think that answer is yes, better peruse these facts first:

Since his Cy Young season in 2002 (23-5, 2.75 ERA), Zito has a higher ERA than Carl Pavano, a lower strikeout rate than Mark Redman and a lousier WHIP than Odalis Perez. And his current 32-30 strikeout-walk ratio (143rd among the 155 starting pitchers with at least 20 innings this year) tells you he now does more nibbling than chef Paul Prudhomme. So why is this man making $18 million a year again?

Carl Pavano? Mark Redman? Odalis Perez? Make it stop! Make it stop!

We still have faith in our man Zito. We have every hope that he’ll finish the year with a sub-4.00 ERA and about 15 wins. Sure he hasn’t been great, but he’s had some starts where he’s pitched well enough to get a victory, but the Giants’ anemic offense just couldn’t get the job done. In fact, in his five losses, the Giants have scored more than three runs just once. Also, despite his troubles, Zito has been the inning-eater everyone expected, going at least six innings in every game except the Oakland fiasco and Opening Day.

We’ve got faith in you, Barry.

But there’s no reason you should be fourth in the league in walks allowed.

Most overrated — from Zito to Suppan [ESPN]


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