"As my car was driving me to work today …"
"After eating an Arby's sandwich and not getting nauseous …"
"So Barry Zito pitched a complete-game shutout today in Coors Field, and the Giants supported him with walks and timely hitting."
You -- yes, you -- said something today about Barry Zito being successful today. You were being clever and ironic because you were fully aware that Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner struggled, and you thought it would be simply hilarious if Zito did well today. So you made a joke like, "I'll bet that Zito pitches well haha lol!" You actually talk like that, too.
But you didn't believe it. And that made it perfect for Earnest Ragging. Because you were so sure that Zito was going to fail in Coors Field after that awful spring-- everyone was, including several players wearing grey uniforms, I'm sure -- that made him especially likely to have the game he had. Barry Zito pitching in Coors Field is like vinegar taking baking soda to the prom, and you there's a great chance that it'll be messy when they get together.
Baseball thinks it's funny, but this is really the universe's version of a Monica Lewinsky joke. We get it, universe. Baseball is weird. It's unpredictable. We get it. Get some new material.
Barry Zito didn't issue a walk today. A Zito with good command has a chance. Mark Buehrle's fastball averaged 85 miles per hour last year, and he cashed that in for $58 million. To put that kind of money in perspective, that's almost $12 million more than Zito's remaining contract*. But Buehrle's command and change are good enough for him to thrive, not just get by. If Zito had that kind of command, I'd wager that he could use his breaking ball/fastball combo to do quite well.
Zito doesn't have that kind of command. He did today. He probably won't very often. That's not me being cynical; that's me looking at the "BB" column at Baseball Reference.
Today's start, though, was a reminder that there's a way for Zito to pitch well that doesn't involve science fiction. It's not like you have to start with, "Okay, suppose Zito is bitten by a radioactive Greg Maddux." He has to have command, and then he'll succeed. Seems so simple. Obviously, it isn't. If Jonathan Sanchez had command, he'd be pre-injury Johan Santana. If Shawn Estes had command, he'd still be pitching. If Madison Bumgarner had command, he'd be a badass young pitcher. Which he is. That probably isn't a great example of how hard it is to throw strikes, but it's a great example of Madison Bumgarner being a badass.
But the topic of the day isn't Bumgarner. It's Barry Zito, who was phenomenal. Barry Zito. No one gave him a chance in Coors Field, after the spring he had. He had one of his very best outings as a San Francisco Giant -- his first complete-game shutout as a Giant! --, and he did it with exceptional timing. If Zito got bombed today, the "It's still the first week of the season!" cries would have felt really, really hollow. It would have been 0-4 with everything swirling around the drain. Instead, Barry Zito had good command, and the Rockies kept waving through pitches and popping them up.
This wasn't a new Zito -- he only got seven swinging strikes out of 114 pitches -- but it was an example of how the old Zito could help the 2012 Giants. This should help his confidence. Hell, it'll help my confidence. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back into the Barry Zito Community Projection and lop off a run from the projected ERA.
"If Ryan Vogelsong could come back," he wrote, only half trolling …
* No, Zito didn't deserve that jab after a masterful game like that, but I think what you're forgetting about me is that I'm a dick.