Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Suggestion For Zito

Let's be honest about the whole Barry Zito situation: it is about the money.

It is, of course, shocking and puzzling to watch a healthy young athlete struggle so mightily. But what dominates this story is that number. You know the one. 126,000,000.

Don't believe me? I just Googled the phrase "$126 million" and 352 news items popped up.

Few doubt that at least some of Zito's problems can be traced to The Contract. How can he not think about it when it's all anyone else can see?

The Giants think the answer is to send Zito to the bullpen, hoping he'll regain his magic. Here's my suggestion: Barry, offer to give the money back.

Not all of it. Let's say half. That'll make you the $63 Million Man, and half of the juicy storyline will evaporate. You'll just be another struggling pitcher. The fans will find something else to boo. The writers will move on. And you'll still be wealthy beyond belief.

There's historical precedent. Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock, in an April slump just after signing a then-startling free agent deal, went to owner Gene Autry and offered to forfeit his entire month's paycheck. Autry declined the offer, and Bostock wound up donating the money to charity.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying Barry Zito doesn't deserve the money. He deserves every penny of it. The Giants agreed to pay him and he agreed to show up every day and give his best effort. That's the deal, and Barry Zito has kept his end of it. Has his pitching been awful? Sure, but the deal didn't say "we'll pay you $126 million if you go 23-5 each year".

No, I'm making this suggestion on Zito's behalf. Take away the storyline, and the pressure drops. Not only that, Zito would look like a hero. Right now, that would be nice.


bobcullinan said...

stan, i think this could set a dangerous precident.

it may cause others who have underperformed to step-up and take responsibility for their own actions, too.

can you imagine what life would be like then? i shudder to think of the ramifications.

whether sports stars, business leaders, politicians or just run-of-the-mill folks, this rush to responsibility could shut down the entire the entire county.

we've built a social fabric based on blame and obfuscation. something like this could rip that fabric apart.

we better think twice before backing something like this. zito's give-back could open the floodgates.

just think of the possibilities.

that would all be your fault.

Anonymous said...


We hope Zito rights the ship, but you have an interesting idea here.

On the air, Madden said the union would never allow it. Theoretically could the union actually stop this if Zito were so inclined to give half back?

I would be stunned if something like this ever happened in my lifetime, but if it did, Zito strikes (npi) me as the type of individual that might possibly contemplate it. Just curious if a player could do so?