ON DECK: The redemption of Zito
Back when I was growing up, I fell in love with the droopy curveball of a left-handed ace for the Oakland Athletics. His name is Barry Zito.
Zito, along with Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, created the 2000s version of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. Naturally, Oakland couldn't financially hang on to any of them. Hudson eventually left to Atlanta, where he's had a strong career. Mulder zipped to the Cardinals after the 2004 season and had one good year (2005) before his career crumbled like a stack of cards.
Zito stayed two years longer than Mulder and Hudson, leaving for San Francisco and an Andrew Carnegie-sized contract after the 2006 season. Since arriving in the bay, the Man With the Golden Curveball has been terrible for five straight seasons before going 15-8 in 2012.
If you told me two years ago that Barry Zito would start Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, I'd tell you there's better chances that the Mayans will be right.