It’s not a surprise. Not even close. It was very clear as the season ended and the A’s gave Barry Zito a final couple of starts that his playing career was coming to an end. But today he made it official, writing a column announcing it in The Players’ Tribune.
It’s not your standard retirement announcement. In it Zito talk about his professional and personal challenges, his religion, his family, his journey to self-acceptance and the like. In this it’s both very zen and very Zito, as we’ve come to know him over the past several years. It’s interesting to hear about it all in his own words.
Quite a journey the man has had. From a phenom to a Cy Young Award winner to something of an albatross and then finally onto journeyman status. From a guy who, at least according to some scattered reports back in his Oakland days, used to be a bit of a wild child on to a mature adult who has embraced Christianity and his family. For all of his ups and downs, he seems to be at a pretty peaceful and happy place. Not too bad.
As for the numbers: a record of 165-143 with an ERA of 4.04 (ERA+ 105) and a K/BB ratio of 1885/1064 in 2576.2 innings over 15 years. He won the Cy Young Award in 2002, his third season. He was a three-time All-Star. He was never what the Giants expected when they gave him a nine-figure deal but he was on the team for two World Series titles (though on the playoff roster for only one of them).
Not a bad career.
Major League Baseball already produces a lot of TV. For example, there are baseball games. And its own network is a great place to go for highlights, studio shows and, if you’re into being screamed at nearly incoherently, Chris Russo. But now the league is dipping its toe into a scripted baseball production with a Babe Ruth miniseries.
The details are over at The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that the miniseries will be helmed by “The Sopranos'” Allen Coulter attached as director and executive producer. What he can bring to Babe Ruth’s story that hasn’t already been covered by multiple Babe Ruth movies in the past isn’t terribly clear, but maybe the miniseries format will do the Sultan of Swat better service than a mostly lackluster crop of movies has done.
My thinking: Babe lived a big life. It’s hard to squeeze that into a two hour movie without making him something of a caricature. If you have many more hours, maybe they’ll do a better job of making a human being out of him.
I made a joking reference this morning to playoff hero/free agent-to-be Daniel Murphy getting overpaid this offseason. It happens fairly often to decent players who suddenly go crazy in the playoffs and it wouldn’t shock me if it happened to Murphy too. Even if front offices are a lot smarter these days than they used to be.
But Murphy’s heroics aren’t likely to sway too many front offices. Certainly not the ones with a greater analytic bent. The Mets are one of those. And even if Murphy is playing the hero right now — creating MurhphyMania, really — the Mets aren’t going to change their minds on him. From Kristie Ackert of the Daily News:
Two team sources said again Sunday that Murphy, despite his postseason heroics, is not in Mets’ future plans.
“He’s been great, really great,” one source said, “but it changes nothing.” . . . The team feels strongly that Dilson Herrera will eventually develop into their second baseman of the future or that Wilmer Flores could be play there in the meantime.
Murphy is an above-average hitter who can play at least three positions. He’s a nice piece to have on a team on a short term deal for less than $10 million. Much the way the Mets have had him for the past seven seasons. But he’s not the sort of guy you give big free agent money to. And you likely don’t even give him a qualifying offer which would double his salary for next year. As Joel Sherman of the Post writes, many in the game think he’s going to get a Chase Headley kind of deal. Even if that’s a tad high — seems high to me anyway — the notion of going multiple years and well into eight figures for Murphy seems a bit much, especially for a budget-conscious team like the Mets.
So nothing surprising here. Except for the fact that some Mets executives decided to actually tell a reporter what they’re thinking about such things right now, as Mets fans are going absolutely crazy. Let ’em have some fun with this for a while, maybe?