Let’s talk about the greatest contract in the history of professional sports. There are some simple guidelines for this discussion:
- The contract can only be the greatest in the history of professional sports if it is somehow related to the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series
I think that’s the de facto standard throughout the sports world now. So my nominee for the greatest contract in the history of professional sports:
Barry Zito: Seven years, $127M
Argument in favor: The Giants won the World Series.
Argument against: Something about payroll. I can’t remember.
The Giants won the World Series; your argument is invalid. Of course, Zito is tied with the 41 other players who appeared in a Giants uniform this year. Brandon Medders: one of the greatest contracts in the history of professional sports. Maybe if Medders doesn’t melt down against the Pirates in April, Brian Wilson comes in for the tenth inning and takes a line drive off the knee, ending his season. The Giants trade John Bowker and Joe Martinez for Octavio Dotel, who becomes the closer. The Giants finish the season two games behind the Padres.
Maybe. Probably not. But I do know this: with Brandon Medders throwing baseballs soaked in kerosene, the Giants won the World Series. That’s what happened. Without Brandon Medders, a lot of other things could have happened. They didn’t, and the Giants won the World Series.
Also, here’s something you might not have thought about for a while: The Giants won the World Series.
But back to Zito. You don’t even have to do those sorts of mental gymnastics to see how valuable Zito was to the team. He pitched close to 200 innings with an average ERA. If Zito were replaced with Kevin Pucetas or Joe Martinez, the Giants probably don’t win the World Series. If he quits baseball to play competitive Yahtzee, and the Giants sign Rich Harden or Ben Sheets, the Giants probably don’t win the World Series. Seven years, $127M, one championship. Bargain, even if he was left off every postseason roster.
I wouldn't go back in time and trade Zito for Albert Pujols in March because there's a small chance that somehow leads to the Giants not winning the World Series. Maybe Pujols gets injured, and Todd Wellemeyer stays in the rotation all season. Maybe Pujols goes 2-for-18 in the World Series, including an oh-fer against Tommy Hunter in Huff's spot in the lineup. Unlikely, but maybe. I'll take the certainty of a World Series win, thank you.
- Mark DeRosa, who was given $6M to hit like a pitcher before his wrist tendon turned into a fog and leaked out his ears: greatest contract in the history of professional sports.
- Aaron Rowand, he of the Dante Powell production on a Matt Holliday salary: greatest contract in the history of professional sports.
Long post short: From Tim Lincecum to Waldis Joaquin, every member of the 2010 San Francisco Giants was a butterfly flapping its wings, and the end result was the Giants winning the World Series. Whatever it took to get everyone in place, whatever it took to create the exact sequence that we watched, was absolutely worth it. No more whining about contracts on this team. No more wondering what the Giants could do with the roster if Rowand weren’t around. The San Francisco Giants won the World Series.
Wait, hold on. There’s still a Dodgers fan who hasn’t vomited after reading this. The San Francisco Giants won the World Series. There, that did it.