75 reasons Giants fans will miss Barry Zito

Zito just doing what he does best.

The Giants Sunday declined their 2014 club option for left-hander Barry Zito.

By Andrew Pridgen

The club is still on the hook for a $7 million buyout instead of an $18 million salary next season.

San Francisco signed Zito to a seven-year, $126 million contract prior to the 2007 season and won two world titles during his tenure.

At the time of the signing, he was coming off a 16-10, 3.83 ERA season with the Athletics; it was the largest pitching contract in history.

In honor of number 75’s seven years in SF, here’s what Giants fans should miss about B. Zits:

75. Awkward hair length. Neither short nor long, every time he got it going down to the collarbone, he’d cut it just enough …to look like he needed it cut.
74. Double-digit win seasons in ’07, ’08 and ’09
73. Having the decency to sit out the second half of a disastrous 2011 with a foot and ankle injury.
72. #rallyzito
71. Co-wrote a song (ButterFlies) that made it into an Eddie Murphy movie (A Thousand Words).
70. Started his collegiate career as a Gaucho (UCSB).
69. …Ended it as a Trojan (USC).
68. He became the highest paid pitcher of all time on Dec. 29, 2006, yet all he bought was a new guitar and a house in Marin he can’t offload.
67. Those weird ‘Don’t ask me, ask Barry’ with arrow pointing to Bonds and vice-versa Bonds-to-Zito shirts.
66. The green cardigan he wore after his first Spring Training start as a Giant as an homage to Kurt Cobain.
65. He actually had Bonds’s back in the press.
64. Giving up only two runs in his first start as a Giant …and taking a loss (typical of the ’07 club).
63. Managed a 63-80 overall record with a 4.62 ERA (86 ERA+) during his seven years with the Giants.
62. …That’s slightly under $2 million per win.
61. This picture: barry-zito
60. Becoming the first pitcher in the MLB to get 10 losses in the 2008 season on July 13 of that year.
59. That right foot injury in 2011 paving the way for Ryan Vogelsong’s (re)entry into the rotation.
58. ….And forcing the Giants to carry a six-pitcher rotation in ’11, still the best six-pitcher rotation of all time (Zito, Vogey, Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner).
57. July 7, 2009, pitched 8⅓ innings against the Florida Marlins, allowing 1 run in 4 hits, striking out 6, and walking 1 …his best game as a Giant to that point and only his fifth win of that season.
56. Ending his Giants career going 5-11 with a 5.74 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 133 1/3 innings across 25 starts and five relief appearances.
55. Appearing in just three of the team’s last 32 games of 2012 and was pulled out of the rotation in early August.
54. April 2008: Starting the season going 0-6.
53. …Digging himself into an even bigger hole with a 7.53 ERA during that stretch.
52. Leading the majors in 2008 with His 5.1 walks per 9 innings pitched, a 5% first-pitch-strike percentage and 14 sacrifice flies allowed — all league worsts.
51. Starting the 2009 season right where he left off in ’08, with two losses and an ERA over 10.
50. In 2011, he was benched, relegated to second starter of a double-header or spot starter …and still rattled off three wins.
49. …Then he mercifully ended that season with the injury at 3-4.
48. Crouching Zito — he brought a new delivery to Spring Training in 2012. It WORKED.
47. Lefties hit .330/.408/.530 off him 2013. Ouch.
46. Getting his first-ever RBI the same game Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th home run.
45. Ending his first season with the Giants giving up two runs against the Dodgers and getting an 11-2 win.
44. This quote: “When I’m doing well, it’s like I’m in a nice little ballet. Everything is going slow all around me. It’s very peaceful.”
43. 43 tweets in less than a year before he quit, including this one: not always fun to lose but it happens (July 5. 2011).
42. Jim Thome saying Zito’s curve still gave him jelly legs in 2009.
41. …Never voicing his opinion on Breaking Bad.
40. Breaking up with Alyssa Milano
39. Predicting two teams from the East could meet in the ’12 NBA finals via tweet: who do you think will be in the NBA Finals? my prediction is the Heat and Knicks.
38. This quote: “I’m so secure in myself I couldn’t care less what people think of me.”
37. This picture: zitoIII
36. Giving up seven runs and walking seven over four innings the first time he faced Oakland as a Giant.
35. Getting moved to the bullpen only a year into his contract …and making it back into the lineup in the same month.
34. Again, keeping that Giants career ERA below five.
33. His love for Larry Bird, and streaking (see: #12).
32. This quote: “I’m not trying to be cocky, but I set such a high standard for myself. I’m not happy when I pitch seven innings and give up two runs and get a win.”
31. Respeck: Mark Kotsay, a teammate of Zito’s in Oakland who went down to Zito in his last major league at-bat, said this after ending his career with a K: “If I had to strike out in my final at-bat, I’m glad it was against a former teammate whom I respect and love. I’m happy for Barry. It was a special moment for both of us. I texted him and he responded. He said, ‘Man, that was gnarlier than the World Series. I love you my brother. I have so much respect for you. I love that it was us together out there. See you soon.'” (See: #22)
30. This tweet: my record is at 3-1 now (July 7. 2011)
29. Referring to his sub-85 mph fastball as “sneaky.”
27. Marrying Miss Teen Missouri.
26. This is her: zitowifeI
25: This is her wet: zitsandgfI
25. Pre-game yoga poses in the outfield.
24. This quote: “I’m big into having routines. I’m almost a little anal about it, but you have to be—especially at this level.”
23. Pre-game/bullpen meditation.
22. This quote: “This game is all about, ‘What do your peers think of you?’ … When your peers respect you in that manner, there’s nothing that’s more validating as a player.”
21. This tweet: good morning.
20. His last pitch as a Giant: An 84 mph fastball for a called third strike.
19. This quote: “I refuse to be molded into some stereotypical ballplayer that has no interests, really, no life, no depth, no intelligence.”
18. Finding Jesus just in time to get himself into the playoff rotation in 2012.
17. This tweet: who bombed norway (July 22, 2011)
16. This quote: “It’ll probably be a gradual absorption process.” (after his last game as a Giant).
15. That he stopped tweeting in July ’12, right before he went on his biggest tear in a Giant uniform.
14. Skipping number 13; Zito is one of the more superstitious players in baseball.
12. This quote: There’s a part of me that wants to go streak and run outside and jump around and go swim in the ocean and do everything. The other part of me wants to bear down and repeat this kind of performance next year and in the years to come.”
11. Coming in from the bullpen and striking out a former teammate and close friend Mark Kotsay looking, ending the Padres eitghth and Zito’s career as a Giant. (See: #31, #22)
10. June 3, 2012, a four-hit shutout for a 2-0 Giants win.
9. 15-8 in 2012.
8. 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three postseason starts in 2012.
7. 2012 World Series Game 1 sticking it to Detroit ace Justin Verlander and setting the tone for a Giants sweep and unprecedented second title in three seasons.
6. Founded Strikeouts For Troops, a national nonprofit that provides comforts of home and lifts the spirits and morale of injured troops as well as offers support to military families. Strikeouts For Troops is supported by more than 100 MLB players, coaches, managers, athletes from other sports, and sports fans.
5. April 9. 2012. 7-0 Giants victory against the Rockies. A complete-game shutout, his first since 2003.
4. Bringing his ERA below 3.00 for the first time as a Giant in June, 2012.
3. This quote: “I can relate to anyone. I can hang out with stoners, skaters, surfers, stockbrokers, lawyers, athletes, rappers. I feel I can hang out with any group of people and find common ground to talk with them.”
2. Taking out a full-page ad thanking the fans (and assuming they read actual newspapers) in the SF Chronicle after pitching his final game in a Giants uni.
1. 2012 NLCS game 5 at St Louis: Barry-Zito-unicorn-293x150