Pearlman released a nice rip job on Zito on Page 2 the other day. Here's some highlights:
In my decade of covering professional sports, few people have disappointed me as greatly as Barry Zito. Though I'm unsure when, exactly, the transformation began, Zito is no longer the kid with the surfboard; the laid-back, Cali-cool dude with the ungodly talent coupled with uncommon humility. No, now he has (egad) a publicist. He has (egad) dated Hilary Duff. And Alyssa Milano (well, no shame there). Worst of all, he has (egad) an attitude. Not an especially good one.
I think Pearlman is jealous. And I think he overuses the word "egad."
Back in the day, Zito was quirky -- and it was fantastic. Whether he pitched brilliantly or terribly, he was guaranteed to be the life of the party once the game had ended. Teammates loved him because he was one of them. Fans loved him because he was one of them. He talked trash, played Halo, told stories and found pleasure in the little things; in walking on the freshly cut grass and throwing strikes.
Now, with a seven-year, $126 million deal from the Giants, Zito isn't the same.
So, Pearlman's reasoning for Zitor's change is the contract? I have an idea, Jeff. Maybe he's grown up a little bit and become a man rather than the teenager he often acted like when he was with the A's. I mean, I'm in my late 20's and I can tell you that I act a lot different today than I did when I was 22. But what do I know... (probably about as much as Pearlman).