I was a founding member of the Anybody But Zito Coalition. I laughed at the ineffectual yoga regimen and collaborated in the shark-attack fantasies. When video of him in the water surfaced, I was right there, mocking his wobbly attempt to take off on three-foot beach break. Then he showed up in 2012.
His new approach was evident early in the season. He had an excellent April. After the disastrous opening series in Arizona, Zito got the Giants into the win column with a complete-game shutout—at Coors Field. Something had changed. I watched him carefully avoid the zone with his fastball and then pound it with the pitches that move. Suddenly, he was effective. But he had his bad outings, too. Against the Rangers in June, he grooved a fastball to the second hitter he faced. The booming big fly to the left-field bleachers knocked all 42,000 of us in the ballpark silent. His moment of magic seemed over.
Yet of course, it wasn’t. Zito gutted it out all year long and then pitched the game of his career in St. Louis. I dislike the post-season networks as much as the next fan, but one thing those outfits offer is technology. They’ve got the cameras, and whoever was directing the broadcast of game 5 realized where the story was. Over and over again we got close shots of Zito’s face before he rocked into his windup. The steady ferocity and determination in his eyes amazed me. I believed the Giants were going to win that game because he believed it.
Look at the numbers. They tell one story. Look at some footage from game 5. That tells a better story.
Maybe yesterday was Zito’s high point for this season, or maybe he’ll perform as well as he did last year. Who knows. But one thing’s certain: the ABZ Coalition disbanded forever.