After the 2010 regular season, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy told Barry Zito he was leaving him off the Giants’ World Series roster. A serious blow to a guy with a mega contract who was scapegoated ever since he put on a Giants’ uniform.
Today he’s going to start Game 1 against the Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander. Maybe he wishes it were 2010 all over again. No, he doesn’t. There are fans who would readily admit to that and that exact topic is going to be a blog in the (very) near future.
But, back to today - does anyone think that back in ‘10 Zito was waiting for just this day? My feeling, having been around world class athletes for decades, is he’s been waiting - and preparing - for just this moment. Granted, I worked only on the college level (and only in men’s basketball) but at many of my stops there were some brilliant performers in other sports, e.g. Reggie White, Lisa Leslie, Stephen Abas (silver medalist wrestler) and Nick Watney to name just a few. And, because human nature intrigues me, I would closely watch them.
Highly talented, extremely competitive athletes are living for just such a day as Zito is getting today. When he performed poorly after signing a huge contract, Zito’s internal make up was questioned - in print, on the airways and, of course, in bars. A large percentage of fans, sportswriters and sportscasters (mostly those who never played beyond high school, maybe even ever) live for those days. Nearly all in that group are solidly behind him now (the majority will tell you they always have been). More and more, because “haters” are in vogue, there’s a small group who still criticize him but they pretty much criticize everything and everyone other people admire.
Unless he’s completely defied the odds, the Barry Zito (re)climbing of the success ladder continues today because he worked hard, focused and did what everybody who believed in him told him to do:
“Hang in there.”