March 22, 2013
Lies, Damned Lies, And That One Barry Zito Factoid
Most of what I write centers on The Factoid. I like to organize the word into surprising, easily digested chunks, so I love factoids. My job usually requires me to write longer pieces than a simple factoid, so I keep writing and writing, but if you strip away the stalling, the GIFs, the jokes, the pointlessly long lead-ins, the repetition, and the tables, it’s usually just a factoid that I wanted to find a place for. Here’s a factoid: In the average day, I spend approximately 25 minutes looking for factoids, and 18 minutes interacting with my family. Factoid!
But the very pithiness and the juxtapositions that make factoids awesome also make them easily deceptive. As much as I love a good factoid, I am skeptical of a good factoid. There’s one baseball factoid that I see more than any other factoid, and it has always made me uncomfortable, and I’m finally getting around to exploring that factoid. That factoid is a variation on this:
For example, when Barry Zito was a free agent, this was reportedly in his Boras Binder:
When the Oakland A's score three or more runs for him, Barry's record is 93-11.
And at the end of the 2012 season, the excellent Henry Schulman wrote this about Barry Zito:
The Giants took advantage of pitcher Lance Lynn's throwing error to score four unearned runs in the fourth inning. Fans on both sides of San Francisco Bay know what four runs of support has meant for Zito: a 126-7 record for his teams.
I don’t blame anybody, Boras or Schulman or Wikipedia or anybody else, for using this. I mean daaaaaaaaang 126-7. How you going to beat 126-7? It’s a mighty impressive factoid, which is why I hear it about 15 times a year, every time the Giants score four runs in a game while Zito is on the mound. So why does it make me uncomfortable? Well, because I suspect it’s a total fraud. And until I get to the bottom of it, I’ll never feel any peace. So here we go.
What is This Factoid Trying to Say?