A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Friday, November 03, 2006

This is the End

Last night my wife and I went to a Buddist meditation class. The teacher talked about "the Equality of Self", the idea that I think "me" is the real self, but to someone else I am "other" and they are self. He talked about how if we treat everyone as important and understand that everyone wants to be happy, we will learn to treat people better. I believe that. I get really mad at people at work when the world isn't how I want it, I have to do a better job accepting things. The teacher also said that problems don't exist on their own, we make the problems important. Maybe they are just opportunities in disguise.

Then we meditated. We were supposed to clear our minds of everything. Forget our troubles, forget about the outside world. Imagine ourselfs surrounded by light. Then imagine ourselves as light, now only a shadow in the light. No thoughts at all. I am not so good at really clearing my mind of everything. I always count things or think about something. Sometimes a teacher will tell us to have a mantra and say it over and over until it doesn't mean anything.

I thought about my troubles at work and home, my life and everything that it isn't like I wish it was. Then I came upon a mantra. Almost spontaneously I started to say in my head, Zito, Zito, Zito. I imagined the release point of Zito's curveball in my head. I imagined the way he quickly pulls his arms over his head and back down in the windup. I started to wonder if Zito would do better in the late innings if he changed his windup so that by the 7th inning he hadn't lifted his arms over his head 100 times that game. Maybe that energy used to lift his arms all those times causes him to lose his stuff a few pitches earlier than he could have. Then I thought those thoughts were too cluttered and tried to back off and just focus Zito's left hand right at release. Over and over I have watched that hand release the ball, many times on TV from the centerfield camera of the coliseum with Zito wearing the white jersey and the high green socks and the yellow brim on his hat. In my meditative image it is a night game and the colors are bright. In my mind there was a lefty at the plate, his uniform is grey, but I can't really see who the other team is. It doesn't matter.

I thought about the times when Zito had snapped off the perfect curveball, and subconciously he knew it. He would sort of start to walk off the mound to his right almost as he releases the pitch. Zito knows he has just released the perfect pitch, it is already strike 3, the batter just doesn't know it yet.

I looked on Baseballreference.com today. Barry Zito is 13th on the career active ERA list. In the last 5 years he is #1 in starts. He ranks high on many season pitching stats every year since 2001. If he is not a #1 starter he certainly is a good starter. And at 28 he is younger than anyone on that best career ERA list except Santana, who is 27. Just some food for thought.

So I guess this is the end. Barry Zito is going to the highest bidder. Maybe it is not a problem but an opportunity for the A's to get another starter, or some other free agent. Maybe a big bat? Maybe this loss I feel for a guy not yet gone is misplaced, maybe it is an opportunity. But I don't share a lot of ANer's feelings that the A's need this or that to revamp the lineup. I feel the A's had a wonderful season and a really decent shot at winning the WS this year. It didn't happen, but when it turned out that the 83-win team won it all, it certainly appears Billy's right, it's a crapshoot. The A's do NOT stand pat from season to season. Players will come and go. But deep down I wonder if there is a reason why the A's pitchers are so good? I see that Lidle, Lilly, Foulke, Koch, Bradford, Hudson and Mulder all seemed to have about the best years of the careers as Athletics. People say it is the park, or the coaching. But you look at all the factors and besides the park with all its foul ground, what is constant is that Barry Zito has been in that rotation, he's pitched well and he hasn't missed a start. I just get the feeling that sort of quality has rubbed off on the others. And now it appears all but over. Surely the A's will be a quality team next year. Won't they? I just don't know.

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