The mystifying Mr. Barry Zito 

click to enlarge After being the Giants’ scapegoat for years, Barry Zito proved he still has something to contribute, shutting out the Rockies. - DOUG PENSINGER/GETTY IMAGES
  • Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
  • After being the Giants’ scapegoat for years, Barry Zito proved he still has something to contribute, shutting out the Rockies.

In baseball, it was pointed out correctly, if not grammatically proper, by Hall of Famer Yogi Berra: You don’t know nothing. Or did you think Barry Zito would be a savior after Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain would be, not disasters, but at least disappointments?

To the contrary, one thing we all know is no matter how the A’s do, and that was a brilliant 1-0 win Monday night, they can’t draw beans, not with the kicking and screaming involved in their desperate attempt to flee to San Jose.

Maybe the Zito performance was one of those mystical things that like Bigfoot is never to be seen again. That is less important than the fact it was seen and recorded for posterity.

No runs for the Rockies? To paraphrase Gershwin, they can’t take that away from us. Or Barry.

Some Monday. The Giants and the A’s give up a combined zero runs. As the man said, if the other team doesn’t score, it’s impossible to lose.

Oakland’s Tom Milone, who came from Washington, allows Kansas City only three hits. San Francisco’s Barry Zito, who came from Oakland, allows the Rockies only four.

Zito called the result “really satisfying.” Others would describe it as really mystifying, but why? Since he joined the Giants in 2007, all we’ve talked about was his contract, as if a man with an opportunity to make good money should have refused to sign.

Barry could pitch. Barry can pitch. It’s just for the most part, Barry didn’t pitch.

Was it in his arm or his head? Sports can be baffling. Zito couldn’t throw a fastball in the right place.

Tiger Woods suddenly can’t hit a golf ball to the right place. A teaching pro told me last weekend at the Masters,

“Tiger looks like he’s trying too hard.” The past five seasons, Barry Zito absolutely was trying to hard.

Great athletes become great because they let the game come to them instead of trying to force themselves upon the game.

Dare we use the word master in another context, Zito’s pitching? If you can throw a shutout at Coors Field, elevation 5,280 feet, and who cares if the balls are kept in a humidor, you can pitch any place, anytime, against any team.

We have been warned not to make too much of the way Zito pitched. Why? We made a great deal about the way he previously had pitched, ineffectively, so why not give the man his just due, especially when the Giants started the season 0-3?

Zito has been blamed, indirectly because of that big contract, for many of the Giants’ weaknesses, critics claiming had Barry not been given his $126 million the team would be flush with cash and able to sign, well, not Albert Pujols, but some big-time power.

Barry became a scapegoat.

“If I wasn’t making so much money,” he told the New York Times in 2008, “the fans would show a little compassion.”

Whatever the fans showed, Zito showed them. He showed everyone he had the ability and courage to reach back to his Cy Young Award past.

We have to be pleased. Barry has to be pleased.

We may not know “nothing,” but we do know success is its own reward.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at

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Art Spander

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