Everyone knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of when and with who.
I was already having a crummy week. A crummy month. Hell, a crummy winter. Already. I knew Barry Zito was going to be gone since the beginning of the 2006 season, but it doesn't make it much easier to deal with the fact that he's gone. Barry Zito is no longer a part of the team that owns my heart.
I was woken up to the ring of my phone. A text message. I was expecting it to be from my friend that was snowboarding up in Nevada City. I let it ring a little longer because I didn't feel like getting out of bed just yet. Then I realized that it wasn't ringing repeatedly because of one text message. I was getting text after text, one right after the other. I started to get worried, so I got up and checked my phone. I had 17 unchecked messages.
"I'm so sorry"
"I knew he would leave"
"At least he didn't go very far"
"At least it's not New York"
"I'm sorry sweetie. I'm really sorry but we knew this was going to happen. Chin up"
On and on they went. Different variations of the same message but not one of them informed me of what tragedy had just happened. They all spun circles around my mind, pulling at my heartstrings and prodding at my soul. Finally, I saw the message that caused my heart to break.
"Z reported to sign with giants"
DENIAL: Someone was playing an elaborate prank on me. It couldn't be true. It just couldn't. Not with the Giants. I mean, just this week he was talking to the Rangers. And the Mets. And... no, this couldn't be happening. Barry Zito was the one player that I had loved for over eight years. It couldn't be possible that he had been so selfish as to accept money from the Giants, the team that I hated with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I laughed it off. Someone was quite the prankster.
ANGER: Screw this. F*** Barry Zito. Baseball was becoming a money sport. WTF am I gonna do now? The love of my life was on my third most hated team. I hate this. This SUCKS. [[throws chair]]
BARGANING: Hey. Does he have a no-trade clause? Eh. No Angels. That's good, at least. Or maybe... Barry, can I get you to change your mind????
DEPRESSION: I started crying. Actually, not just crying. I sobbed. My heart was broken. Crushed. I feel like I've been dumped after an eight year relationship where Barry had been nothing but good to me. Yeah, there have been times when he dissapointed me. He has messed up before, like any other person, because he has the fatal flaw of being human. I've been able to disregard those minor letdowns because he had always made up for it by being the amazing person that he is. Now... now he's no longer a part of the Oakland Athletics. I can't look at him on my walls without crying. I need chocolate.
ACCEPTANCE: I'm not here yet. Screw accepting it. I'm going to be depressed right through 2013.
It's been an hour since I started writing this post. I still haven't been able to fully grasp the fact that he's with the Giants. It would've been easier to see him go to a team with World Series hopes, a good winning record and a fame for signing good players. Instead, I get a Barry Zito signing by the rival-across-the-bay. I will be at the mercy of my peers and Giants fans around the town who know me as Zito. I'll be looking around my bedroom today, only seeing the posters on my wall and not comprehending why I feel how I feel. Posters of Zito from USC, pictures of Zito from the minors, signed baseballs and pictures from his Cy Young year-- it's all trivial, inconsequential memorabilia. The poster that JLaff gave me for my birthday that says, "To Cathy, Happy Birthday, Barry Zito" will bring tears to my eyes yet again. Bobbleheads and t-shirts, bags and dog collars. Bracelets and necklaces and cards. Notes from friends titled Mrs. Zito and my guitar, named Z. All these petty items seem quite unimportant in the scale of things.
Many people think I'm overreacting. Friends believe I'm being a melodramatic angst queen. My mom laughed at me this morning and told me to stop being so overemotional. She said the signing didn't affect me and I shouldn't be so senseless as to let it take over me.
Barry Zito brought me to Oakland. I had a crush on the A's in fourth grade, but it was one of those minute crushes you'd usually never do anything about. I liked Oakland, yes, but at the time I became interested, they weren't doing very well and were unlikely to captivate me for very long. I was a fourth grader with a short attention span. However, once Barry got drafted by Oakland, I fell. Hard. My true love affair with Oakland began with Zito. My allegiance for Oakland won't end with his departure because I'm so attached to the team, the town and the opportunity to be able to call myself an A's fan. My fervor for the A's won't wane in the tiniest bit because I won't be able to see that curve thrown by a man in a green and gold uniform or because I won't be able to see the same routine warm-ups every fifth day. I won't stop loving a team that has become a part of me just because I won't see the flexible Barry on the mound, kicking his leg up high with every windup or because I'm not going to be able to go to the Coliseum and expect to see Barry out on the field with everyone else, laughing at something stupid and playing catch with Danny Haren. Being an A's fan has taught me to cheer for the team as a whole and to deal with heartbreak more than expected.
It hurts. It hurts more than I expected it to. I was prepared for the departure, but no one could have wrenched that tiny glimmer of hope away from me as hard as the Giants did. I'm going to admit, I am still a Barry Zito fan. Through thick and thin, I'm going to be a Barry Zito fan at heart for the rest of my life. When he's playing against my A's however, I'm going to have to tip my cap when he does something truly Zito-esque and remarkable, and cheer when we outplay him. I'm going to root for him when he's playing against everyone else, but starting today, he is the opponent. A rival and an enemy. He is no longer Barry Zito, Oakland Athletics pitcher and star. He is now Barry Zito, San Francisco Giant and ace of the rotation.
Thank you for the memories, Barry. I'll never forget these six years filled with happiness, tears and a love of the game so strong it could never break the bond of a fan and her passion.
Zito memories for the soul? Please share :]