December 29 - From A To Z
On December 25th I was talking with my grandpa at the Freeman Family Christmas party. In his late
80s, he is suffering from lung cancer (despite the fact he never smoked) and does not resemble the
lean, former collegiate track star I had always been used to. A lifelong San Francisco Giants fan he
yearns for the World Series title that has eluded the cursed franchise since they left New York. The
subject of Barry Zito came up and his exact words were, “If we could get him, then we’d have a real
Now………if this was Joe Giantsfan, I would have instantly rained on his parade. For that is what
fans of rival teams do. You would have heard the, “well you should have just read the 1,000 words I
turned in on Barry Zito two weeks ago, let’s just say we have no hard feelings towards you guys now
rockin’ Planet Zito.” However the enthusiasm in his voice brought me back to why I watch sports.
Why I continue to root for a team like the Oakland A’s who constantly subject me to a kick in the balls
each October. While these teams and these players may break your heart, they also give you a
worthwhile cause to invest yourself in. All you want is to get lost in these games and have a hope that
your team will finally become the king of the mountain.
While I may look at Barry Zito as the high-ceiling player who disappointed me due to his inability to
harness his talent and consistently dominate, my grandfather does not see that. When he looks at
Barry Zito he does not see a guy who lost Game 1 of the ALCS and single-handedly killed Oakland’s
momentum. He sees a 28 year old player that has a Cy Young on the mantle and 102 career wins.
Now that Zito is property of the San Francisco Giants, he loves that his team got an ace that is
entering his prime. Barry Zito is providing hope for a franchise that is desperate for it.
Here’s the thing. I reacted the exact same way when the Oakland A’s inked Mike Piazza. I sent out an
e-mail that read, “The Pizza Man Has Cometh To Oakland” in the subject line. I talked up how he hit .
285 with 26 homers in 126 games while playing catcher for the San Diego Padres and how as a DH
for 145 games, he is a shoo-in for 35 dingers. I casually mentioned watching Piazza hit that home
run against the Braves for the New York Mets in the first game after 9/11 to anybody who would listen
so as to confirm his clutchness. I ignored Yankee fans that questioned his toughness for not
charging Roger Clemens and Mets fans who informed me that “Mikey P” hits into a lot of double
plays. After the Magglio Ordonez walk-off, my A’s pride that was dormant had finally returned.
The thing about sports is that it is like one big high school prom and all you want is the opportunity to
dance with the prom queen. The longer it takes the more you want it. It pisses you off when the
foreign transfer student (Florida Marlins or Arizona Diamondbacks) beat you to that dance. Especially
when you have been next in line for a decade like the Oakland A’s…….or if you have quietly waited
your turn for over fifty years like the San Francisco Giants. And every season brings about a change in
wardrobe and hair style in the hope that you will finally woo the queen and get that dance.
I got to watch the Oakland A’s get crowned World Series champions in 1989. It has been a long time,
but at least the trophy is on a mantle somewhere in the Oakland Coliseum. At least I have my
memories of watching Stew and Eck pour champagne on each other. However my grandfather has
never gotten to see this. The rules of sports bigamy prohibits me from rooting for the San Francisco
Giants. However……. I can hope. I can hope Barry Zito fulfills the expectations of Giants fans. I can
hope Barry Zito wins another Cy Young. And I can hope that if the A’s don’t do it this season that it is
the San Francisco Giants and their fans who finally get to dance.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.