Goofy day. First, Facebook bought Instagram. They only paid a billi… Wait, they paid a billion? Oh.
Manny Ramirez doing idiotic stuff like using the restroom behind the Green Monster during a pitching change is an example of Manny Being Manny. Today, when Barry Zito threw a four-hit shutout in Coors Field — in Coors Field — it was just Baseball Being Baseball.
Some guy once threw back-to-back no-hitters. Rick Ankiel once threw a strike as a pitcher, one that didn’t bounce off of the backstop. Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand and Yuniesky Betancourt and Vladimir Guerrero and Pablo Sandoval each once took four-pitch walks… that were not intentional. I think anyway. George Steinbrenner — may God bless his soul — once exercised restraint during baseball’s free agency period. Again, I think anyway. And Dusty Baker even once pulled a young starter a bit early to preserve his arm, Joe Torre a late-inning reliever to do the same. (Okay, the last two are false.)
Baseball Being Baseball.
But what’s so remarkable about Zito’s shutout today is everything.
The Giants’ vaunted trio of a two-time Cy Young-winner stud (Lincecum), a $100-million-dollar stud (Cain) and future (/present) stud (Bumgarner) all had pretty — what the kids call these days — meh starts in Arizona. There had only been 18 shutouts in the history of Coors Field. Some random lefty named Tom Glavine was the only left-hander that ever had. Let’s zero in on that again: Coors Field. Also, Zito had not thrown a shutout since 2003, back when he was still pretty good and throwing for the Green and Gold, the not-San Jose A’s of Oakland*.
All the while, Zito was thought to be left for dead, just heels on a rickety plank, looking down at an ocean filled with hammerhead sharks and a pirates sword a quarter inch from his behind. Many thought he would be released soon. Very soon. For some this wasn’t a scenario, it was the most likely scenario. He was throwing 80-83 mph out of spring training, and — small samples be damned — had a spring ERA of infinity. This prompted some — some cruel individuals like myself — to make jokes about how Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball challenged Zito’s non-heater to a race.
And so, after the Giants lost their third straight game to start the season on Sunday, everyone looked at Monday’s probables, saw Zito starting in Colorado and said that he would pitch well. Grant at McCovey Chronicles laid this out exactly, as only he can:
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… 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.
Zito is throwing shutouts at Coors Field and the Giants are scoring runs. Giants baseball is back and four games in with 158 to go. And baseball is back and doing what it always seems to: whatever the hell it feels like.
Baseball Being Baseball. Go get your flights arranged for a Pirates-Royals World Series.