Barry Zito (born May 13, 1978 in Las Vegas, Nevada) is a left handed starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball. He previously played seven seasons with the Oakland Athletics, where he won the 2002 American League Cy Young Award and made three All-Star teams.
Zito never missed a scheduled start in his career until 2008, and led the American League in starts four times. After the 2006 season, Zito signed the most expensive contract in history for a pitcher at the time. Zito is well known for the drastic difference between his pre- and post- All-Star Game pitching.
Zito played collegiately at UC Santa Barbara, Los Angeles Pierce College, and the University of Southern California. In the 1999 draft, he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics with the ninth pick of the first round. Zito is known for his idiosyncrasies, and his offbeat personality. He created the charity Strikeouts for Troops which provides money to hospitals for soldiers wounded in military operations.
Zito transferred from San Diego's Coleman High School to University of San Diego High School, a Roman Catholic school where he earned all-league honors with an 8-4 record and 105 strikeouts in 85 innings as a senior.
He then attended UC Santa Barbara where he earned Freshman All-America Honors with 123 strikeouts in 85? innings. Transferring to Los Angeles Pierce College, he posted a 2.62 ERA and went 9-2 with 135 strikeouts in 103 innings, and was named to the all-state and all-conference teams.
He then transferred to USC, where he was a first-team All-America selection by USA Today Baseball Weekly, Collegiate Baseball, and Baseball America. With a 12-3 record, a 3.28 ERA, and 154 strikeouts in 113? innings, Zito was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year.
While in college, Zito also played in the Cape Cod League, a summer wooden bat league which showcases the nation's top amateur prospects. He led the Wareham Gatemen to the league championship in 1997, and a runner-up finish in 1998.
Zito was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 59th round (1,586th overall) of the MLB Draft, and in the third round (83rd overall) by the Texas Rangers in 1998, but did not sign with either team. In the 1999 draft, he was selected by the Oakland Athletics with the ninth pick of the first round, and signed for a $1.59 million bonus.
In 1999, Zito began his professional career in Visalia, Oakland's Class-A team. He went 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 8 starts. He struck out 62 in 40? innings. Zito was promoted to the Midland RockHounds, and went 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA to finish the AA schedule. He then got one start for the AAA Vancouver Canadians, allowing a lone run with 6 strikeouts in 6 innings.
Zito began the 2000 season with the Sacramento River Cats (formerly the Canadians). He pitched 101? innings in 18 starts, going 8-5 with a 3.19 ERA, 91 strikeouts, and 41 walks.
Oakland Athletics (2000–06)
Zito made his major league debut on July 22, 2000, against the Anaheim Angels. He allowed one run in five innings, and got the win.
In 2001, Zito finished third in the league in strikeouts per nine innings (8.61), fourth in strikeouts (205), sixth in wins (17), eighth in ERA (3.49), and tenth in winning percentage (.680). Zito became the sixth lefty aged 23 or younger since 1902 to strike out at least 200 batters in a season.
In 2002, Zito won the AL Cy Young Award with a 23-5 record, narrowly defeating Pedro Martínez in the voting. He led the league with 23 wins, was second in winning percentage (.821), and third in both ERA (2.75) and strikeouts (182). Martínez, who'd led the AL in ERA (2.26), strikeouts (239), and winning percentage (.833), became the first pitcher since the introduction of the award to lead his league in each of the three categories and not win the award.
In 2003, Zito was seventh in the AL in ERA (3.30). He was tenth in strikeouts in 2004 (163), and fifth in 2005 (171). Zito had a streak of 14 consecutive starts (and 20 out of 21) in which he gave up fewer hits than innings pitched. In 2006 he led the league in batters faced (945) and games started (34). He was third in the league in innings (221), eighth in wins (16), and 10th in ERA (3.83).
He threw 200 or more innings in each of his six full seasons with the A's. Zito never missed a scheduled start and led the American League in starts four times. He was named to the American League All-Star Team in 2002, 2003, and 2006.
Zito replaced his agent Arn Tellem with Scott Boras in July 2006. Zito was a focal point of the 2006 trade deadline, and was widely rumored to be headed to the Mets in a potential deal for prospect Lastings Milledge. A's general manager Billy Beane decided to keep him for the rest of the season. Zito was offered to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Michael Bourn, Ryan Madson, and Chase Utley, but the then-GM of the Phillies Ed Wade said the price was too much and turned it down.
San Francisco Giants (2007–Present)
Following his seventh season with the A's, Boras negotiated a seven-year deal with the San Francisco Giants worth $126 million, plus $18 million option for 2014 with a $7 million buyout. Zito's contract on December 29, 2006, became the highest for any pitcher in Major League history at the time.
During spring training in 2007, he and Barry Bonds made shirts that read "Don't ask me, ask Barry" with an arrow pointing to the other Barry. By all accounts, Zito and Bonds got along well during their short time as teammates, and Zito made a point of saying he would stand by Bonds through onslaughts from the media.
On May 18, Zito made his return to Oakland as a Giant. He lasted only four innings as he gave up seven runs while walking seven, including two bases loaded walks. The A's beat the Giants, 15-3. He faced his old team again on June 9, this time in San Francisco. Zito pitched four innings while giving up three earned runs on nine hits.
Zito made his first Major League relief appearance on August 5 against the San Diego Padres, due to an early exit by starter Noah Lowry and an overworked bullpen. Zito pitched a scoreless seventh inning. He recorded his first career RBI two days later against the Washington Nationals, in the same game that Barry Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th career home run.
After Zito's start on August 12, his ERA was 5.13. Over his next four starts, he lowered his ERA to 4.46. He admitted that he had put pressure on himself to perform because of the large contract and was learning that he just needed to be himself. Zito also said that it had been difficult for him to adjust to a new league, team, and ballpark. On the final day of the season, in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, Zito allowed two runs on five hits and had four strikeouts in an 11-2 win.
Zito began the 2008 season as the oldest starter and the veteran presence in the Giants' starting rotation. In April, Zito went 0–6 with a 7.53 ERA and 11 strikeouts. He was the third pitcher in the last 52 years to go 0–6 before May 1. On April 28, 2008, the Giants moved him to the bullpen. Zito did not make an appearance out of the bullpen and returned to the rotation on May 7, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In that game, Zito allowed 5 hits and 2 earned runs over 5 innings and took the loss, his 7th of the season. On May 23, 2008, Zito collected his first win of the 2008 season against the Florida Marlins. On June 13, 2008, Zito became the first pitcher to record 10 losses in the Major Leagues following the 5-1 loss to Oakland. His 5.1 walks per 9 innings pitched for the season, 51.5% first-pitch-strike percentage, and 14 sacrifice flies allowed, were all the worst in the majors.
The 2009 season seems to have marked a rebound in Zito's pitching performance. Though starting the season 0-2 with an ERA of 10, Zito ended the season with an ERA of 4.03. Though going only 10-13 in the season, Zito's record was much more the fault of his spotty run support (the second-lowest in the major leagues) than his performance on the mound. On June 21, 2009, Zito pitched a no hitter through 6 innings against the Texas Rangers before giving up a hit and then a home run to Andruw Jones in the 7th inning. He won the game, his fourth win of the season. On July 7, 2009, Zito pitched what could be considered his best game of the season. He pitched an 8 1/3rd inning shutout against the Florida Marlins, giving up 4 hits, striking out 6, and walking 1. He won the game, his fifth win of the season.
The velocity of Zito's fastball has hovered between 86-90 mph. He augments it with a very good changeup, and a traditional "12-to-6" curveball that was widely recognized as the best in baseball. Though very slow, his curveball was voted the best in the Major Leagues in a player poll conducted by ESPN The Magazine; Zito's curveball is also his strikeout pitch. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees once stated that he'd never seen anything like Zito's 12-to-6 curve, commenting that the pitch dropped 3-4 feet, and, "You might as well not even look for it because you're not going to hit it".
Since mid-2004, Zito has added a two-seam fastball and a slider to his arsenal; in the 2009 season, his slider became a prominent part of his repertoire, used more frequently than his changeup. Zito's diminished velocity at the start of the 2007 season (his fastball velocity went from 87-90 mph to 83-86 mph) and loss of command are the key reasons for his recent struggles, as he more often got behind in the count and had to rely more on his fastball. Most recently however, his pitching performance has rebounded due to the increased velocity on his fastball and regaining control on his curveball. During the 2009 season, Zito made changes to his delivery, lowering his arm slot from an over the top angle to a three quarters delivery. This change helped his fastball velocity go back up to the 87-90 mph range as well as sharpening the break of his curveball.
Zito is known for his idiosyncrasies and his offbeat personality. He has earned the nicknames "Planet Zito" and "Captain Quirk". He once made it a practice to buy his own autographed baseball cards on eBay; when asked why he bought them at auction for high prices rather than acquiring unsigned cards and signing them himself, Zito replied, "Because they're authenticated." Despite batting and throwing left-handed, Zito signs autographs for fans at the ballpark right-handed. He has previously dated Alyssa Milano and Hilary Duff and shares a home in San Francisco with fellow Giants pitcher Brian Wilson during the season.
At his introductory press conference with the Giants, Zito said he liked the way his uniform number 75 looked, because the 7 and the 5 are like a "shelf" to hold the name "Zito" up. He carries pink satin pillows on the road, collects stuffed animals (such as a good luck teddy bear, with which he used to travel), and burns incense to relax. Early in his career, Zito dyed his hair blue. He plays guitar, surfs, practices yoga, and follows Zen. He has done yoga poses in the outfield, and meditates before games. In 2001, Zito espoused a universal life force that he credited with his midseason turnaround. His mother Roberta named him after her brother Barry, a beatnik “freethinker” and acolyte of Zen who mysteriously vanished in 1964 at the age of 22 near Big Sur, California.
He created the charity Strikeouts for Troops, to which he donates $400 for every strikeout he throws. The charity benefits hospitals for soldiers wounded in military operations.
His father composed and arranged music for Nat King Cole in the early 1960s (ca.1961-64), and arranged for the Buffalo Symphony. Zito's mother is a classically trained musician who also sang with Nat King Cole's band, in a choral group known as The Merry Young Souls.
His uncle is TV's Patrick Duffy.
Guest-starred on the hit TV show JAG, season 9 episode, "The Boast."
He is a big fan of the San Francisco punk band, NOFX. His favorite musician is Ben Folds.
HT: Okay Mr. Z., first question, when are you going to be wearing the pinstripes?
BZ: You know, I’ve been asked that a lot. Obviously being Italian, all the fans in New York ask me that.
HT: Like Jason Giambi, it’s a natural fit isn’t it
BZ: Yeah. With Arne Telem, being my agent too… the first year it was Mike Musina who went there and then the next year Jason, and then now Matsui. So everyone is like so when is Zito? The whole thing about going to the Yanks, my primary place is Oakland. I think we got the coolest team in baseball: we got the young guys, the studs, and the best clubhouse by far, I think. I want to take every opportunity I can to stay there when I’m a free agent in four years.
HT: So you just signed a new contract?
BZ: I signed one last year and I have four more years. So right now I have two and a half more years so I have to wait four more. If something doesn’t work out with Oakland then I’m going to explore other possibilities but I’m focused on keeping our guys. We have a lot of young guys in Oakland and if we can sign all those guys, then we’re going to be great for a lot of years.
HT: Are you familiar with the farm system there because you were in the majors soon after pitching at USC?
BZ: I spent a year in the farm system. I went to A ball, double A, triple A.
HT: I know you guys have a young team now but are there people that you are excited about who are coming up also?
BZ: Yea, we have a couple of pitchers in triple A that are coming up. But, the thing about our team now is if we can keep everyone together. I mean we have a team right now where they are going to look back at us in ten years and they are going to say, “Holy shit, I can’t believe those guys all played on the same team.” I mean me, Mulder, Hudson, Chavez, and Tejada. Unbelievable!
HT: And Jason before that too!
BZ: And Jason was also homegrown too.
HT: Who is really unbelievable! You know considering what he has become now, had he resigned at that time for what he was asking for that off-season in ’99! But what can you do? Your Management made a choice that seemed sensible at the time, I guess, but he went on to have even better years in 2000 and 2001. There have been recent rumors that Oakland weren’t going to resign Tejada. With that kind of stuff going on with Jason and now Tejada…
BZ: We have great owners. We want everyone in the entire organization to see the greater picture, which is that we have a very special team. We have a team like the Braves in the 90’s that can go to the playoffs and win their division every year. I think if we can’t get Tejada signed there’re going to be a lot of upset people.
HT: The Yankees, we just think in terms of the guys who can just fit our team whether they have to change positions or not. I mean, you are like a natural. The first time we saw you in ’99 we thought he’d be another great guy for us. Lefty and filthy stuff!
HT: And like Jason, Tejada too. How does it feel thinking that you may only have one season left with them…
BZ: We’ll see what happens. There is going to be a lot of negotiating going on. It’s unfortunate how it works because with Jason, he said “I want to get whatever is going on during spring training. If I don’t sign then that’s it.” And it ended up turning into a big battle the whole season. And it’s hard for players when they are negotiating in the morning and at night they have to go play. And they feel like if they go 0-4, their price goes down and if they go 4-4… It’s tough like that.
HT: It’s a very special thing you got going… Zito, Hudson, Mulder, in whatever order. That’s like Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz!. You guys still have Harang?
BZ: Yea, and we have Ted Lily who used to be with you guys.
HT: I don’t know why we got rid of him. I heard that the way because of the way he throws, he was going get hurt a lot.
BZ: Actually, he got hurt with us and we hope he can come back. He may still be hurting, I’m not sure.
HT: You guys all signed long term right?
BZ: That’s what you have to do with a team that doesn’t spend a lot of money. You have to sign your guys early. Chavez would have gone to arbitration and made a killing. Miguel Tejada would have gone to arbitration. I would be eligible for arbitration after this next year. And they wouldn’t be able to afford everybody. So, the fact that we signed guys to long-term deals was important.
HT: You just try not to think about three, four years from now? You guys could be like the Braves as long as you three stay together. Did you guys get a replacement for Koch yet?
BZ: Yea, Keith Falk from the White Sox. And that’s when you asked about the minor league. We got that guy from the trade, Joey Valentine, who may or may not be a closer. He’s a good guy. Four years from now you never know what could happen. We could have new owners, a new stadium, you just don’t know. In the game of baseball it’s easy to look ahead and to think long term but you really got to focus day to day and worry about your next start, next game and this year only.
HT: Our payroll for the Yankees was sixty million or something four years ago and now it is one hundred and sixty million. A hundred million more but still they do all the work. Yanks have a great owner who wants to win. But I have respect for you guys because you guys really kept together even when they talked about the A’s moving to Las Vegas, and you guys stayed together and kept on winning and getting the fans excited. The question is, how much longer you can keep on doing that, but you really don’t have a choice do you? You just got to keep on doing it. And when it comes down to it, no matter who’s there whether it is Jason or Tejada, it comes down to the big three again doesn’t it?
BZ: I think our team is based around pitching and we have great hitters. Chavez, Tejada, Hatteberg, Jermaine Dye, obviously tremendous. Mark Ellis, Terence Long you can go down the list. But, our team is based on pitching and defense mostly because when you have a staff like that, your main goal is to make sure your defense is good to back up your pitching.
HT: You were able to overcome losing Jason Giambi last year. But the fact that you guys proved that you could stick together and continue to improve, that must make you guys feel positive no matter who you end up losing?
BZ: Oh yea, definitely. No matter what, we are going to keep pushing and this year we didn’t lose anybody really. We lost Billy Koch but we got somebody back. And David Justice is gone too. But, for the most part we have our group. I’m more confident coming into this year than I’ve been since I’ve been with the A’s.
HT: Another hurdle is that you lost your manager.
BZ: We still have a guy who was with us so it’s not like a new manager coming in. Ken Macha’s a great guy, he knows the team and how we work. He has a great relationship with our general manager, Billy Beane. I don’t really expect anything crazy to happen.
HT: Macha played in Japan you know?I know you are the player rep. Who has emerged as the leaders on the pitching staff and on the field?
BZ: I think Huddy, Tim Hudson, definitely a leader. And Frank Menachino, he wasn’t an everyday starter but this year I think he’s going to win a job.
HT: He had a good year two years ago in the playoffs. He was awesome!
BZ: He is such a gamer man! So he’ll be battling with Mark Ellis for a second base spot. Frankie’s amazing! This guy has so much heart that it is contagious on the team.
HT: It seems like even if he’s sitting on the bench he is totally ready. It is important to have guys like that with that kind of professionalism. Were there guys that influenced you coming up?
BZ: It’s weird, I never really had a mentor coming up. I never looked to a guy and said, “I want to be like him.” I always did my own thing. Sandy Kofax is a guy now that I know about and reading his book... I never had a guy.
HT: You are a big reader of biographies right? As far as reading about other people’s approaches…
BZ: Yea, the one book that I lead my life by is this right here. Creative Mind by Ernest Holmes. This book was written 100 years ago. It’s all about the power of your mind and how basically everything on the inside of you predicts what’s on the outside. They say if you take a picture of your mental outlook of yourself and your environment and then you take a picture of your life, it’s the same.
HT: How long have you been reading this book?
BZ: My dad has always instilled some beliefs in me. My dad always told me you are going to be a great champion, you can do whatever you want to do. Whereas some parents say you shouldn’t try that it’s pretty hard and what are the chances(?). He never got into that. I got into this book in 2001. It was late July, I was 6-7 with a 5.5 something ERA and I was really struggling, scared to pitch and didn’t want to go out on the mound. I just had had two terrible outings against Minnesota and he stayed with me in Oakland. We went over this book everyday for four days until my next start. And since that day, my record has been 34-6. This showed me what I’m capable of up here.
HT: That’s very impressive for a young man. And if you can keep that up you’re going to have a very healthy career.
BZ: I think so too. I even think health is in your mind as well. Someone who’s sick and weak is always feeling sick and weak and pitying themselves and saying “poor me, poor me.”
HT: I heard stuff about you before you came up to the Majors, but your first couple of outings were unbelievable. When you know that you got the stuff, pitching is so much about the mental and physical health. Obviously being a lefty with some absolutely filthy stuff helps. David Wells has got some nasty curve balls and hooks but your stuff is obscene! But, you basically only use three piches?.
BZ: Yea, only three. Fast ball, curve ball, and change up. My change up has become, probably, my best pitch. I know my curve ball is good but that pitch has gotten me out of more jams than anything and I really have focused on that. I’ve worked with Rick Peterson, our pitching coach, who is an absolute genius. He’s really taken me to the next level.
HT: When you were at USC were you a two pitch pitcher?
BZ: Mostly, fast ball and curve. If you have a good curve ball in college you can get along with that. The change up in college isn’t used as much. Not, at least, in my case. When I got to the big leagues, he said, “I don’t care how good your curve ball is, these guys can hit it.” And he’s right. If guys are looking for the curve ball, they are going to hit it hard. But the change up, you can’t really look for the change up because it looks like a fastball.
HT: Did you hit at USC?
BZ: No, just pitch. I haven’t hit since I was 14 or something.
HT: We haven’t seen you in the World Series hitting yet.
BZ: No, I don’t think you want to.
HT: Are there guys out there that you liked watching as you were coming up? Randy Johnson, Glavine or Pettite?
BZ: David Wells, actually. David Wells and Eric Milton. Those are two guys I like to watch pitch. Of all the guys in the league, I think David and I have similar stuff. Milton throws a bit harder than I do but he doesn’t have the big curve. I just like how both of them throw. Both of them live inside. And I live inside.
HT: Is it Wells’ toughness that you admire?
BZ: I like how he competes. He goes out there and no matter what he’s got, he is going to give it his all. He’s going to win most times.
HT: What about Jimmy Key?
BZ: I remember watching Jimmy Key. I grew up in San Diego, so I was a big National League fan. He was in Toronto obviously. I didn’t watch tons of baseball growing up so I wasn’t really aware of pitchers before ‘93 or ‘94.
HT: You just played?
BZ: Yea, I just played. I was involved in so many other things; music, surfing, and that’s my life now. Baseball is just one facet of my life. I play around town with my sister in bands. She’s a singer, songwriter. I sing, write songs and I started acting. There is just so much out there.
HT: Do you have a stipulation where you can’t surf during the season?
BZ: Most guys do. That was a negotiating point in the contract.
HT: I know Trevor Hoffman isn’t allowed to surf during the season. He’s a big surfer.
BZ: During the year, I never surf. In the off-season though… The biggest thing is you can do whatever you want but if you get hurt doing something that you are not allowed to do, say Jeff Kent motorcycling, they can void the contract. I’m allowed to surf, I’m allowed to mountain bike, that’s it. If I get hurt skiing and break my leg, then they can void my contract.
HT: Can you talk a little bit about the influence you had from your parents? Your dad was a composer?
BZ: He was a composer for Nat King Cole. He always told me dream big and dream always. Like I said before, so many parents tell their kids, “Oh I don’t know if you want to do that, that’s hard, what are the chances of being in the big leagues, what are the chances of making a living at baseball or music or whatever it is.” So many kids are discouraged from their parents and I think a lot of times it’s from parents that came from a blue-collar family; they learned that you got to work full-time for thirty years at the same steel factory or whatever and that’s how you do it and I think when kids want to follow their hearts and do something creative they get discouraged. That’s such a wrong thing to do. So, my parents always encouraged me. My dad brought me out on the backyard everyday, it wasn’t like he forced me but, “Dad I don’t feel like it today”. Then he would say, “Do you want to be great at this or do you want to be like everyone else and be mediocre.” And I’d say, “I want to be great!”
HT: Was he an athlete himself?
BZ: No, he was all music! He didn’t know anything about baseball. We would go through baseball books and he’d be two pages ahead of me the night before, and then we would go over what we had to do and he would never tell me he was two pages ahead, and I thought he knew the whole thing.
HT: He instilled the hard work in you? If you do your homework you would be ahead of the game.
HT: He never pushed music?
BZ: No. He never pushed music. I started playing guitar three years ago. It was my first big league spring training in 2000 and I wanted something else to break the monotony of baseball. So, I started playing guitar. I’ve been playing three years. I’m doing stuff on the guitar that I’ve talked to people playing seven to ten years who say they can’t do it. I think I have that musical knack. I have a really good ear. I feel like I can write pretty complex music and stuff and so that’s definitely something that is instinctual.
HT: When you sang on Jim Rome’s show. I thought you showed a lot of balls to sing live on a Radio Sports Talk Show. Because Rome’s radio show is so much more intense. He could play it over and over on his show. He wasn’t making fun of it but he was saying, “I love this guy, he just comes on out here and does this!” But of course, the media started saying that you were this quirky guy and stuff.
BZ: When people talk about me being a flake or me being quirky or different, I think they want a story and that’s understandable but the bottom line is, I’m real! I think I’m more real than a lot of guys because I’m not afraid to show who I am. I’m not trying to change to become this image of being some superstar ball player. I’m just being me. Now, I’m also proving on the field that I’m a good baseball player, but I love music and I love so many things about life that why should I act like I don’t.
HT: I knew the Media would take that situation out of context. The whole point was that you’d just stated playing, and even Romie loved it! Besides, I bet you sound pretty good now! Going back to your dad, he also helped you with your rhythm. That must be so important to pitching?
BZ: The timing and mechanics are huge. As far as pitching, you can only delve on mechanics for so long and then you have to say, “These are my mechanics, I can change them a little bit, but this is how I have been doing it for fifteen years.” So with me everything is mental. I read this book before I go to sleep, I start having positive affirmations and that’s where my dad helped me.
HT: Relaxation too right? To be able to stay within yourself?
BZ: Yes. Stay within yourself.
HT: Do you get nervous?
BZ: No, I don’t ever get nervous. I think anxious is more the word because, like before playoff games…
HT: Don’t you get butterflies?
BZ: I think when you are nervous is when there is some doubt that you can get the job done. I know I can get the job done. It’s more anxious, it’s like, “I don’t want to sit here for four hours until the game starts, I want to start right now!” That’s more what it is. Because once you get out on the field, that’s when I’m normal. I feel so comfortable on the mound.
HT: A MMA fighter I recently talked to called Bas Rutten apparently never gets nervous or butterflies! Even seconds before a fight, with thousands of screaming fans in the stands. It’s hard for me to believe people like that exist! I can understand your explanation of staying within yourself, but what about game five at home against the Yankees in the later innings or at Yankee stadium in a playoff game to go to the World Series. You don’t feel pressure when people are yelling and Derek Jeter is up there with two men on…
BZ: It’s all in your mental concept. It goes back to what I talked about, it’s your mental outlook. The reason why that fighter doesn’t get nervous is because he has such a conviction inside of himself that he is the champion and that he can win and he can beat anybody as long as he stays in himself. All the power to do anything you want in your life is inside of you. A lot of people look outward. If you’re not pitching well, you do get nervous and you go “wow” there are a lot of crowd or you go this umpire back there is not a good umpire, this guy’s a good hitter and you start looking at all this other stuff and you forget about you. When you are pitching well and your mental concepts are correct you never look outside. You don’t care if there are nine Babe Ruths in the line-up as long as you know in your heart that you are going to succeed.
HT: I can see a player in his late twenties or in his thirties talking like that, but you’re still only twenty-four, you’ve grown up pretty fast.
BZ: It’s because of my parents.
2001, was when I started studying this book. It was the season that was such a turnaround. I was 6-7 with like a 5 ERA; that was four months of the season. And my next start was the first part of August and in order for me to save my year, I would have had to say, “Gosh, I have to be the best pitcher in baseball for the next two months.” And I could have said that and said, “What are the chances of that? You got guys like Clemens, Pedro Martinez...” But I did what I do and stayed up here and played one game at a time and for the rest of the season I was 11-1 with a 1.3 ERA. I ended up going 17-8 that year. That’s a good year and I turned the entire year around. Since those four days where I discovered the power that I have in my own life it was 2001.
HT: That’s very impressive! When Clemens won his Cy Young in Toronto, he started off 1-6 or 2-6 and he was treated rough but he ended up winning the rest of the games. That’s similar to what went through. People saw your first half-season and they knew that you had the stuff to compete for the Cy Young fairly early on.
BZ: After that first half season of 2000, they said, “The sophomore slump” for the second year a guy does that. The mental reason behind a sophomore slump is that when you come up and you’re new and a rookie you don’t really know that all this shit is insane, you don’t know that, “Oh my god, I’m pitching in a stadium”, you just know that you’re pitching. I bust my ass to get here, there isn’t any expectation for a rookie. You’re never expected to do great so then you do great and the next year you come back. It happened to me and I was like, “Oh god, now they expect me to be the number two or three guy.” After that, things were terrible! That was when I realized that I was totally giving power to all this instead of what was inside of me.
HT: That’s a great story. Was there any religion in your family? It seems like you guys have some kind of discipline of that nature.
BZ: This is the religion. If you call it that.
HT: Did you guys go to church?
BZ: My grandmother founded a religion. She started a religion in ’69 called Teaching of the Inner Christ. The main teaching of that is that we are all a Christ, basically God is everywhere. People might say, “God is in me.” And you might say, “Are you God?” “Oh no, I’m not God.” “God is this huge powerful thing that we need to be afraid of.” “But, I thought you just said that God is in me.” “Yea, God is in me.” So, it kind of contradicts itself. So I was always taught that we are all Christ, we can all use this great power and the way we use it is through our mind. And you always hear things like self-fulfilling prophecy; if you think something’s going to happen but nobody ever translates it into religion, they just think that. Think of the placebo effect. Someone takes a sugar pill and their illness gets better. They didn’t take any medicine. How come that isn’t a completely startling realization in the medical industry? Where, all we have to do is have people think healthy and they will become healthy. This was written one hundred years ago and only now, in the last ten years, can I talk about this stuff. Thirty or forty years ago you talked about this stuff and you could have been shot or burned at the stake.
HT: And your mother was an ordained minister wasn’t she?
BZ: Yes, my dad didn’t work. She was a pastor in a church, a minister, and that’s how we put food on the table.
HT: Why? Because he was composing?
BZ: No, I actually was born in Vegas and when I was six I came here to San Diego and my dad stopped working to help me. Incredibly dedicated to me from seven years old till I was eighteen. For eleven years we worked together.
HT: So the Nat King Cole stuff was before?
BZ: That was all back in the ‘60s, before I was born. So, my mom was a minister. She is now retired and they live over here in LA. I did go to that church and those teachings are right in line with what I think.
HT: But your parents didn’t force you to believe in Christ?
BZ: We believe, of course, that there is a god. What created all these beautiful things around us? But, I don’t fear god and a lot of people do. And a lot of people think that they’ill be judged. It’s seems a contradiction in my eyes. When you see how intricate the body works. You know, we breathe in oxygen and blood cells come and take it to this and this and all the millions of functions. Every human is the most perfectly working system and you think something that creates all that perfection and then people think that there is a bad power too? I just don’t see it.
HT: When you are through with your Hall of Fame bound career, can you see yourself coaching or managing? Or, do you see yourself more involved in show business?
BZ: Yes, I love the entertainment industry. I love creative outlets. Right now my creative outlet’s mostly music. Obviously, baseball is something that always challenges my mind. But music, acting I just did and I fell in love with it. People told me, “Hey you’re a natural. We can’t believe that you never acted before.” Art and photography, there are so many things I want to get into that I don’t have time for right now. But I think after baseball there is so much stuff that I want to do.
HT: Did you graduate college?
BZ: No, I went to four schools in three years and came out as a junior like most baseball players do.
HT: Did you go to junior college?
BZ: I went to UC Santa Barbara for a year and a half, then I went to two junior colleges and then I went back to USC for one.
HT: Because of baseball?
BZ: Yea, the career is what we had in mind. We went to Santa Barbara. You can’t get drafted by a team until you’re a junior. So we wanted to go to a junior college so I could get drafted after my sophomore year. I didn’t want to wait. And I went to Pierce JC, here in the Valley, got drafted by the Rangers in the third round in 1998. I didn’t end up signing there, and then I went back to another junior college back home in San Diego got my AA, which is required, and then to USC.
HT: Did you get drafted before that as a high school player?
BZ: Yea, I got drafted in the sixtieth round by the Mariners out of high school.
HT: Your uncle is Patrick Duffy?
BZ: My mother’s sister’s husband.
HT: Do you see him much? Talk to him about acting?
BZ: He’s actually kind of semi-retired now. They live up in Oregon. They used to live here in Tarzana. I never really talked to him about acting but we would have family dinners over there. We see him about three or four times a year.
HT: I could see you in a solid role in a sports movie to start with maybe
BZ: That’s probably the next thing. I want to get away from the baseball. When I was on the Chris Isaac show, that was a major role for me. I was in eight scenes and tons of lines, I had a kissing scene, I had a scene where I sang a song with Chris and the band.
HT: Did you play a baseball player?
BZ: I played myself. It was still a pretty big role. Arliss was very small. I would like to get away from that. I feel like I can do a lot of things.
HT: You could’ve played the boyfriend in Blue Crush?
HT: What’s it like on the road? Do you guys have curfews? Or are most players so tired that they just sleep?
BZ: We have our fun on the run. We go to restaurants. I always make sure I prepare one hundred percent when I’m pitching. See, I pitch every fifth day. So I start on Sunday, my next start isn’t until Friday. I’ll take a couple of nights and have some fun. It’s a great opportunity. Great cities. Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto.
HT: You like the museums and concerts…?
BZ: I love doing all that stuff. When we’re in New York I love going to Broadway, seeing some shows.
HT: Do you do the whole nightclub and the drinking?
BZ: Yea, I mean I like having a good time too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete homebody. In LA, I don’t really party at home. I come home and do my music. Even though I’m ten blocks from all that stuff down there. A lot of times, it’s a headache to go out in LA. It’s hard to get into clubs here and when you do, it’s tough. I think LA’s great if you’re known and you’re what’s going. I love the energy of LA. I love the entertainment. I love the fact that yesterday I could go to the gas station and see Johnnie Knoxville. It’s so alive here. It’s the industry! It’s great.
HT: Being a young man, you hear the stories of Darryl Strawberry or Dwight Gooden and the excess. They do their jobs on the field. But, so many guys with Hall of Fame potential lose their focus. You’re probably not afraid of that because of your discipline. You seem to know when to call it quits before things get out of hand.
BZ: I can always sense it. If I’m in a club or something… Just two weeks ago, I was at The Lounge and it was a big party and guys were trying to get me to their hotel room to party with a bunch of people and I just get this thing. It’s like a red light and then all of a sudden I’m in a cab and I’m home. I just totally remove myself from the situation because I don’t want to get involved in all that stuff.
HT: I don’t think you are the kind of person to get mixed up in all that. Congratulations on the Cy Young Award, by the way! Especially, in the American League last year! 23-5, that’s amazing! You’re going to be the Man for years to come. But. could girls become a distraction? Do you have a steady girlfriend now?
BZ: I just got out of a relationship. The thing with me, I’m only capable of having a girlfriend during the off-season. During the season, I’m so focused, so intense, I’ll literally go into my room for three hours, read this, make signs. These signs are mental anchors or positive affirmations. I’m always doing this. It’s a total project. If I’m doing all that and I have to call a girl and I don’t and then she is upset. I can’t have that burden. Before I go to Spring training every year I have to detach from everything so I can attach to everything mentally. I had a girlfriend for two years but before my full year in the big leagues I had to end it and it was simply because of baseball. The next off-season I had a girlfriend but had to end that. The last girl I dated was a great girl in San Francisco. She was probably the greatest girl I’ve met up to this point in my life. We had to end it.
HT: What if you went out and saw a terrific girl during the season? Are you going to just be up front and tell her how it is during the season?
BZ: Yup! I meet everyone and I’m completely honest, I’m not into being mischievous or deceiving.
HT: Isn’t it a temptation when all the hot ladies desire this studly, rich, young athlete like yourself? You have needs too; you know what I’m saying?
BZ: It is a temptation.
HT: Are you that disciplined that you can stay focused? And you have many more years before your career ends.
BZ: I know, and when that point comes I’ll deal with it. But right now, to be honest with you, I can’t believe how guys can maintain relationships let alone marriage and kids and give one hundred percent of what they have to the game. For me, where I want to go in this game is definitely takes priority over any girl. Look, if I meet a good girl here in LA, we go on a couple of dates, have fun, she knows by the first or second date that my complete focus is on baseball.
HT: That’s why young men like you and Derek Jeter are different! You know where you want to go with the game.
BZ: To be honest with you, I’d much rather spend a night playing a guitar hanging out than be with a girl and … a lot of times, when you are not completely comfortable around her and you sleep in the same bed together, you’re up with her till five or six. Because you’re talking and you’re massaging and you’re doing all these things. Instead of that and losing sleep. Yea, maybe if it’s sex or whatever, that’s great, but I can’t take that. I need sleep and prepare my body for what I’m about to do and that definitely takes priority.
HT: Right now, the sky is the limit right?
BZ: Yes. It is rewarding to see that when you do your hard work and you do make it your priority, and yea you do make sacrifices. Some guys love going around and dating all the hot chicks and going out with the movie stars but that is taking away from what they have to do. I would rather see the Cy Youngs every year.
HT: Whether you played for the Dodgers, Yankees or Mets wouldn’t have made a difference how you approached the game?
BZ: No. I still live in San Francisco. It’s a great town, a great city. There’s a lot of stuff to do, lots of things that can take from your focus but I take it all in stride.
HT: What kind of girls do you like?
BZ: I love Latin woman. Brazilian, Mexican and Puerto Rican. The biggest thing that sets me aside from guys I know is that I like a girl that you can talk to. I like a girl that you can get deep with and talk about things. I have little tests I do when I’m on a date. I just went out on a date and I was drinking a margarita. I connected four straws and I’m at the bar waiting for her. I’m drinking from the glass with the long straw with a straight face and from her reaction I can tell what kind of person she is. Is she going to laugh? Or is she gonna look at me weird and think, ‘dude, what the fuck are you doing? There’re people watching us.’ See, I’m not in to that. I’m not that guy who wants meaningless sex and not even be able to talk to her. I like to at least have a great girl I can talk to, I can laugh with and do stupid things and act like dorks. That’s more than anything! When you have that, in a person, an emotional connection, I think that girl gets that much more attractive.
HT: What qualities do you like about Latin women?
BZ: I love dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin. Latin people are very classy. Be it from their Catholic background, they’re just classy. They’re nice, sweet people. They are very family oriented. They are very warm and I love that. I’m the same way, I consider myself a warm person. I was going to Spain during the off-season, but I just couldn’t do it because I had to train.
HT: What do you do in the off-season?
BZ: I take three weeks off in October complely. Starting in November I start lifting, running for two months.
HT: Is it a specific kind of lifting?
BZ: All specialized balance stuff, dynamic stabilization. I’ll get on a physio-ball and lift one arm at a time. A lot of stability stuff, cause when you pitch you are unstable.
HT: You’re naturally right handed?
BZ: Yes, I do everything right handed.
HT: Are you ambidextrous?
BZ: I do everything right handed, except swing and kick.
HT: Can you talk about your mother and your involvement as a spokesperson for the national organ donation?
BZ: My mother had a liver transplant in ’99 and from ’95 she was having problems. The liver controls the skin so she started having itchy skin. In ’99 she got so sick and her skin started turning orange and her eyes turned a dark yellow color and she finally got a liver transplant from a donor. Ever since she’s been great. I just want to help others realize how something I think insignificant… if I’m dead whatever cut me into a million pieces because I’m gone, I’m somewhere else. This woman who wanted to donate saved my moms life, saved our family. I think it’s something that’s so easy to do. With one body you can save five or six lives, who knows?
HT: You do fundraisers and special events?
BZ: I started being the spokesperson this year. So I’m trying to get the word out. Obviously donor day is coming up on the fourteenth. I’m going to start doing stuff. Not golf tournaments; I’m not a golfer. I’m a beach guy. I’ll have a big day at Manhattan Beach; volleyball tournament or surfing or something.
HT Is it important for you to be a role model?
BZ Yea. My biggest thing for kids is ‘you can do it! You can do whatever you want if you so believe.’ And that’s for anything in life. I want kids to value my opinion.
HT: Have you started mentoring other guys on your staff?
BZ: It’s not selfish, cocky or arrogant, and you can tell by talking to me. I can pick out things that I like about other guys and what I’d like to see them do. When you start looking at another guy and starting saying, “God if I could only be like him.” That’s when you start to tell yourself that you’re not that. I’ll never look at a guy and wish I could be him. I’ll tell myself, “I can be him. I can be whatever I want.”
HT: Do you, Mulder and Hudson do things together?
BZ: We’re all three are so different. Huddy is from Alabama, Mulder is from Chicago and I’m from San Diego. We’re all alike in that we get along and we have a great time off the field… we like going to restaurants and doing fun stuff. Our team’s very tight. That’s why I love the A’s.
HT: How about Tejada and Chavez?
BZ: Tejada not so much. Tejada keeps to himself. Chavez and Mulder are like best friends. Me and Adam Piatt, another backup outfielder at this point, are best friends. I get along great with Huddy, Eric Byrnes, Chavez, everyone.
HT: What has Billy Beane meant to you guys?
BZ: He’s everything! Billy and Rick Peterson are the two reasons why our team is the way it is. Because Billy gets the guys, he tells everyone in our organization how we are going to run the minor league system. Billy saw me at USC when every other team said, “He doesn’t throw hard, he’s never going to be anything, he’s an average pitcher.” Billy said, “No this guy can pitch.” And of course now every team is like, “Hey Barry, you’re great! We love you, we were going to take you in the first round.” And I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.” Billy is a genius. I feel blessed everyday when I think about him being with us because he could be turning any team around in the league.
HT: There are talks about other teams wanting him.
BZ: Oh yea, every team wants him. He was going to go to Boston. For two days in the off-season someone told me Billy was leaving. And I had this sick feeling, like almost helpless, like now our team is going to be very different now.
HT: If Tejada and Billy Beane were to go could your decision change?
BZ: If everyone starts to not sign and goes different ways, things could change. But that stuff hasn’t happened yet. Who knows what could happen in a year?
HT: Who is the toughest for you to face?
BZ: It changes every year. 2001, there was Manny Ramirez. Last year Garrett Anderson, I had trouble with. Every year it changes and there isn’t one guy I just can’t figure out.
HT: What is it about Manny that’s tough for you? He seems so relaxed.
BZ: Manny doesn’t think up there. Manny hits the ball hard every time. He doesn’t really have a scouting report. A lot of guys… there is a certain way to get them out. With the great hitters like Manny Ramirez, A-Rod, Garrett Anderson, and Jeter you just have to mix-up every time and if you don’t he’s going to hurt you for it.
HT: What about facing Jason Giambi.
BZ: We always wondered what it would be like to pitch to Jason when he was on our team. It’s great, I love facing G.
HT: As great as he had been with you guys, he turned it up a notch last year didn’t he?
BZ: Yea, he sure did. He’s done great under the spotlight. He is one the most professional and the classiest guys I’ve met.
HT: Do you guys keep in touch?
BZ: Jason always did his own thing. He was a great leader in our clubhouse but he never hung out. He was so focused mentally, that he couldn’t do a lot of those things. He had to focus on his game. He would go out a lot with his own buddies. Totally understandable. To be at that level you need to kind of remove yourself.
HT: Are there pitchers you find tough to go up against?
BZ: You know you’re going up against a guy. Mike Mussina. I pitched a lot against Mussina last year. His mental focus is…..unbelievable. I would say Mussina. Like in the third game of the 2001 play-offs I lost to Mussina 1-0. That could go to your head, but coming into that game I couldn’t tell myself ‘if you give up two runs you might lose.’ You just got to do your work and hopefully get some runs. And Brad Radke, for the Twins. Beat us twice in the playoffs. He also ended our twenty game win streak. He pitched a complete game shutout, man, which is unbelievable.
HT: What was more satisfying to you, 2001, when you guys came so close or last year, the way you guys came together after a disappointing start?
BZ: Last year for sure. Last year we started out slow and it looked like Seattle was going to pull away from the pack again, and then we started getting it done. Last year was amazing, we pulled together, we won twenty straight, it wasn’t the outcome we would’ve liked in the play-offs, but we showed everyone that ‘hey, Jason left us but we still did what we had to do.’ It really made us a solid team.
HT: Are there any places where you do like to pitch and don’t?
BZ: I like to pitch in Seattle. I love the atmosphere, the fans are amazing, it’s always loud as hell. The crisp air in the northwest. And New York.
BZ: Very tough. Another guy who doesn’t have a scouting report. You pitch him, you hope you can mix. He doesn’t hit pop-flys, he doesn’t walk, he’s putting the ball in play, and he doesn’t strike out. If there is one guy who is going to hit .400 it’s Ichiro. Hands down!
HT: How about Hideki Matsui?
BZ: I don’t know, I haven’t heard much.
HT: Did you go to the Japan All Stars?
BZ: No. I had to train. Well that was in November so I couldn’t do it.
HT: What about the San Francisco Giants doing well? Towards the end, the A’s are just as good. People were predicting a Bay Area World Series.
BZ: Well, San Fran has Barry Bonds, we’re on the other side of the Bay, we don’t get as many fans as they do. You can go on and on. We don’t care if we get publicized. We just go out to play.
HT: Would you mind playing out in Vegas?
BZ: Wherever we have to move, that’s fine. We’ll play anywhere! As long as there’s a commitment to win.
HT: Spending money is important?
BZ: I think to keep your players and to understand how important key guys are and to let those guys go and to hope that you can still maintain a good winning team, it can only work so many times.
HT: Two years ago when A’s went with Cory Lidle at four, rather than pitch you guys (the big three) again. Was that a questionable call?
BZ: See, Lidle was having a great second half. That was the decision that they wanted to go with. Last year we didn’t go with that and went with the three-man rotation. But we were confident running Lidle out there. He was one of the best pitchers at the end of the year in 2001.
HT: That’s also the thing about great teams, you support each other and don’t question those decisions, right?
BZ: Yea, exactly.
HT……What about that Clemens versus Piazza situation in the 2000 Subway Series, Al Leiter, and later Estes, took some heat for not decking one of the Yankees, if you were in that situation would you have had a problem putting one in Derek Jeter’s ear?
BZ: Nope! I would do whatever it takes to protect a fellow teammate of mine.