You probably know this, but half of my day job is McCovey Chronicles, and the other half is writing for Baseball Nation. It's funny calling it a day job because it's a night job, too. There are plenty of 15-hour days -- and in October, there's a whole month of them.
For the last year-and-a-half, I've spent most of my time in front of a computer with a work chatroom open. Hours and hours and hours, every weekday and more than a few weekends. It's a weird way to get close to someone, but Jeff Sullivan is as good of a friend as I've made through any job I've ever had. And he's leaving Baseball Nation, which means far fewer jokes and stupidity during those long days. It means I'm about to start enjoying my job much, much less.
I've known for a while, but the official farewell post made it more real. Guess I was kind of in a bit of denial. So I walked to get lunch in my best Charlie Brown/George Michael Bluth gait, and I walked back the same way. I sat and ate my lunch with a mopey kind of chew, staring at the TV, waiting for the Giants game to start.
Then the Giants game started.
I'd guess twenty years ago, I would have put on a Cure album when I was in one of these moods. Mom doesn't understand me, sniff, so I'm a turn on Disintegration and close the door. But I'm too old for that now. That's no way for an adult to mope.
So here it is: We've found the use for Barry Zito. He's perfect when you're in the mood for weapons-grade ennui. Two outs. Walk. Walk. Hit by pitch. Double. Single. Ballgame. It was the kind of game that makes you stare straight ahead and wait for … what? Football season? Basketball season? Nah, baseball's your season. So you just sit and stare straight ahead, waiting for nothing in particular. Just waiting and staring through the TV.
It's happening again. The Giants made a substantial deadline deal, and immediately after they're starting to look like the worst team in the world, just like last year. The offense is moribund. The bullpen is shaky. The rotation is better, especially with Lincecum returning to something of his previous form. But you'll always have Zito lurking around the corner, ready to make 20 percent of the games nigh unwatchable.
That was the 167th game that Zito's pitched for the Giants. Seems like a lot on the surface, but doesn't it feel like 300? Or 500? They're all variations on the same theme. This is the Zito start where he's effectively wild. This is the Zito start where he's ineffectively wild. This is the Zito start where he's knocked around without mercy. Every couple dozen outings, he'll mix in a masterpiece -- the green 0 and 00 of the roulette table -- but for the most part, Zito starts have three flavors. Over and over and over again.
There are usually enough of the effectively wild starts mixed in to give him some utility, so it was never appropriate to release him into the wild and eat the money. But you'll also get games like these, where you think about absolutely nothing because all of your thoughts on Barry Zito are all used up. There was pain and anger with that Monday night game. A Hairston hitting dingers will do that. But today's game? It was the bully sitting on you. No hanging a loogie over your face as you squirmed. No charley horses. Just sitting. Maybe reading a book or a nudie mag or something. You might have felt the humiliation of submitting, of giving in, if you really thought about it. Instead, you just wait.
Gray skies are gonna clear up, and all that. The Giants will win another game. They'll win another series They shouldn't have another 3-7 homestand. They will eventually hit more than two home runs during one of these homestands. And, hell, they're still in first place. There are about 24 other teams that wish they had this kind of problem.
At least Zito was kind enough to squash our hopes before the Giants got to hit. Also, allowing all those runs in the first ensured the focus is on him instead of the feckless offense. He really is a team player, you know.
Baseball's just the best, everybody.