There are Barry Zito and Tim Hudson truthers out there. They exist, and they're coming for you. According to the folks with this mindset, Saturday's Zito vs. Hudson matchup is an abomination, a publicity stunt, an inauthentic nostalgia carnival for two pitchers who wouldn't be a part of a contending team's rotation.
To which I respond: That sounds awesome.
Can you imagine an actual nostalgia carnival? Goodness, they would be fun. They'd have a big, puffy chair for me to sit down and play Super Mario World, and Kyuss would be there, and my hairline would be cool. They'd hold it in the middle of a Candlestick Park made of Lego. Your nostalgia carnival would probably be a little different, but still exciting. There would be Barry Zito for all of us, though. Barry Zito and Tim Hudson.
This particular nostalgia carnival is primarily for A's fans, but that isn't to say that Zito and Hudson aren't a substantial part of Giants lore, too. Zito represents hope, and dashed hope, then renewed hope. Then hilarity and good fortune, with us all making a Jim Halpert face into the camera before we enjoyed the 2012 postseason. And Hudson, to Giants fans, is one of those rare gifts, a chance to enjoy the player we've admired for so many decades on our team. On Saturday, they'll pitch against each other in front of adoring fans.
Is it inauthentic and forced? Well, sure. I think the first step in getting over that idea is to remember that baseball wasn't invented by roving packs of cro-magnons who happened upon each other in the forest and then battled for mates and foodstuffs. Like, there's nothing natural about the sport at all. Baseball games are played in huge structures that are built to attract large swaths of people, almost all of whom are expecting to be entertained during a very specific window of time. What's authentic about one guy using a stick to hit that guy's orb and you caring so damned much about it? It's all weird. It's all inauthentic and forced. We just have to be deft when we trick ourselves into caring so we can't tell.
And if tricking ourselves into caring about Barry danged Zito pitching against Tim danged Hudson is wrong, I don't want to be right.
Watching sports without a shred of nostalgia is just about the worst thing you can do. I struggle with it, too, being way too into the moment, being unhappy with single, isolated games at the expense of the big picture. I know that's easier for Giants fans to do now, but it's something I probably should have remembered more before 2010. Did you realize we got to watch Barry Bonds? Literally Barry Bonds. Oh, and remember that Jonathan Sanchez no-hitter? Or Tim Lincecum's Cy Young? Or Damon Berryhill's walk-off hit against the Cardinals in '98, or ... I don't know, whatever pops into your head.
I'm for a lot of things that have to do with nostalgia, really. When they signed J.T. Snow to a one-day contract and plopped him at first base, forever jimmying up his Baseball-Reference page? I wanted him to take an at-bat or four. It's not like the '08 team was giving us piles of exciting moments. A little nostalgia -- forced, inauthentic nostalgia -- would have gone a long way.
Hudson vs. Zito isn't even that forced, though. The Giants are a mess of broken bodies and dreams, and Hudson would probably be in the rotation anyway. The same goes for the A's, who probably weren't going to call Zito up unless they honestly, actually, no-foolin' needed him. He worked hard to come back, and he did a fine job in the pitcher's nightmare of the Pacific Coast League. There's more merit to the matchup than the truthers are giving credit for.
The funny thing is that this is probably the first time I've looked forward to a Zito start since 2007. It used to be such a lousy feeling to have tickets for the game and count the days until it arrived, only to have that dawning comprehension that it was going to be a Zito start. That happened to me approximately all of the times. If I could only rely on in-person memories and personal anecdotes, my revisionist Giants history would be about how they pioneered the one-man rotation. It was always Zito's turn in the rotation.
It doesn't hurt that he's pitching against the Giants, of course. It's just enough of a twist to make me curious, honestly curious, about how he'll pitch, what he's throwing, what he looks like when he throws it. I'm fascinated by Zito for the first time in eight years, and that's before you get to the nostalgia everyone will feel before the game.
Barry Zito vs. Tim Hudson is happening, and it's coming off as a gift to the fans, which is making the cool kids roll their eyes. Don't be a cool kid. I just went to my 20-year reunion, and most of the cool kids were a lot less cool than I remember them. Not you, if you're reading this. You remained completely cool. Those other people, though, woof.
This might make me a sap, but I'd prefer to think of it like it made a sappier sap out of an already existing sap. I'm excited about the possibility of Zito vs. Hudson in a random A's/Giants September contest. I understand how someone wouldn't be, but if it's okay with you, I'll just spend a little time being glad I'm not them. All hail the Zito vs. Hudson matchup.
I just need to get some friends over so they can share the pay-per-view costs. I'm assuming this will cost $125, but that's a relative bargain.