What happened to Barry Zito?

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There’s a column by Chris Jones up at Grantland. It’s about Barry Zito and it tries to figure out what has happened to the guy.

The premise: the famous Scott Boras binder, which he creates for all of his free agent clients, ruined him.  That it set a level of expectations and created a level of awareness in Zito that took him out of his zen-like live-in-the-moment mindset which gave him so much success when he was in Oakland.

It’s an interesting article and a good read whether you buy into that premise or not.  For my part, I think there’s probably a little something to it, because certainly the expectations and mood around Zito changed when he signed that deal with the Giants and that has to have at least some kind of an impact on a guy.

But I also tend to think that it’s a bit simpler than that too.  Zito was good, but not great in Oakland. Certainly not after his great 2002 and 2003 seasons.  In the three years before crossing the bay he was beginning to settle in to the classic soft-tossing lefty groove. And unless you’re Tom Glavine or Jamie Moyer, that doesn’t presage greatness, even if soft-tossing lefties are somewhat useful things to have around. Add in a downtick in velocity and you have a pretty good explanation of Barry Zito’s performance over the past five seasons.

The Giants gave $126 million to poor man’s Charlie Liebrandt, and that’s what they’ve got for the most part.  It’s not a terrible mystery nor is it a psychological case study.

Imagine the Cleveland baseball club in green

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Everyone talks about getting rid of Chief Wahoo but nobody does anything about it.

Well, that’s not totally true. As we’ve noted, Major League Baseball and the Indians are slowly doing something about it. But the thing they’re doing — a slow phase-out of Wahoo, hopefully in a manner no one really notices — is likely going to anger just as many as it pleases. Such is the nature of a compromise. Such is the nature of trying to do the right thing but being afraid to state the reason why they’re doing it.

A bold move would be a lot more interesting. Not just getting rid of the logo, but totally rebranding the Indians in a cool and exciting way that would inspire people to buy in to the new team identity as opposed to merely lament or accept the abandonment of the old one. To that end, a man named Nick Kendall came up with a super fun and super great-looking redesign and rebranding of the Indians over the weekend.

Kendall, who is not really a big baseball fan but who has spent a lot of time thinking about uniforms and design, went back to 1871 and Cleveland’s first professional baseball team, the Forest Citys (yes, that’s how it was spelled). He took their logo — an interlocked F and C — and built an entire set of uniforms out of it and some aesthetic choices of his own. The new color scheme is a dark green and white. He even includes two alternate, solid-jersey designs. All of it is done in a great looking mockup. Really, go check it out and tell me that’s not cool.

I like it for a couple of reasons. Mostly because the uniforms just look fantastic. I love the design and would love to see a team with that kind of look in the game. We have too many reds and blues. Green is woefully underused in Major League Baseball and it’d be good to see some more green around.

Also, as Kendall notes, and as soccer shows us, the “[city] [mascot]” name construction isn’t the only way to approach team names, and so the name — Forest Citys, or some derivation of it — would be unique in baseball. Maybe it’s be “The Cleveland Forest Citys/Cities.”  Maybe “Forest City B.C.” would be a way to go? Maybe, as so often happened with baseball teams in the past — the Indians included — the nickname could develop over time. It’s certainly preferable to the option a lot of people point to — The Cleveland Spiders — which (a) evokes the worst baseball team in history’ and (b) sounds like something a 1990s NBA marketing team would come up with.

If the Indians are going to get rid of Chief Wahoo — and they are — why not do something fun and new and exciting?