I've got a friend who's a good friend of the brother of a member of the New York Yankees.
Lest you think I'm about to spin one of those urban legends, be assured: this friend has shown us videotape of him cruising along Lake Michigan's shores in a party boat with this player and a few others. He's got him on his speed dial; he hears baseball news, whispers it to us, then in the next day or two, the mainstream media reports it.
This friend said a few weeks back that this member of the Yankees had spoken to Barry Zito to sell him on the benefits of playing in New York (they'd played together earlier in both their careers), and that Zito seemed to be sold on it. Of course, this was done for the Yankees' benefit, not the Mets'. But I was certain that if he wasn't worried about the pressure of playing in the greatest city in the world, then Zito would be packing his bags soon enough and heading to Shea.
It was not to be.
Now that we've had a moment of silence to commemorate what could have been, let's move on.
I don't fault Omar or Wilpon for not winning this battle; in fact, I applaud them for not turning it into an insane auction. I'm just happy I never heard the phrase "If Gil Meche is worth that much, then..." at any point in the negotiations. I'm not angry at the Orlando Magic, my adoptive team, for letting Shaquille O'Neal go ten years ago. Orlando was not where Shaq wanted to be, just like New York turned out to be not where Zito wanted to be.
If money was the issue, then Texas would have come out on top in this bidding war. In many respects, Barry Zito is simple. Not stupid; simple I think he simply wanted to keep playing in an area in which he was comfortable living. His decision belies his recent quote, though, that he was looking to play for a team with a chance to win a World Series. The team he left has averaged 95 ½ wins in the last six seasons, with three division titles and three second-place finishes. The team he's signed with has averaged a little under 88 wins in those same six seasons, with but one division title, and they averaged ten games under .500 each of the last two seasons. Zito makes the Giants better; he doesn't make them a playoff team. I'm taking bets on whether the Giants will appear in the World Series in any of the next seven years, and laying 4-1 odds against it.
Now the Mets need to shift their focus on working a deal for a starter with some experience. My buddy Johnny Gunnz has an interesting trade idea; I don't want to steal his thunder, though, by spilling his beans. I'll let Johnny send his well-formed thoughts on to our beloved editor Mike and see if they're blog-worthy.