If Barry Zito were an actor, what kind of tree would he be?

[Spoiler warning…] Well, I watched JAG last night for the first time in about four years. I used to watch it every once in a while, but I kinda got bored with it. If last night’s episode is any indication of what I’ve been missing, I don’t feel bad at all. Even if the characters are still likable, the plot was so thin and formulaic, it’s clear that the writers are completely out of ideas for this premise. This is a show that has stayed alive too long.

But that’s not why I was watching, of course. It was to see the performance of Barry Zito.

One thing I really hate when I watch baseball on film or TV is when the baseball isn’t realistic. The pitcher throws like a European shotputter. The batter has a terribly uncoordinated swing that would never do anything but hit weak grounders to shortstop yet he somehow supposedly hits a screaming line drive. The batter hits a popup to second base, and the next thing we see is the ball is flying over the left field fence for a home run. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. So you’d think that if they have a real major league pitcher on the mound, you should be able to get some realistic baseball action.

No such luck. Zito plays a guy who is supposed to have a 95mph fastball. He doesn’t (he tops out at 90), but he should be able to produce a reasonable facsimile of one for the camera. Or a real, honest to goodness curveball. But all we see from Zito in this episode of JAG are warmup tosses, probably about 60-70mph, and we’re supposed to believe it’s going 95mph. I didn’t buy it.

OK, but that’s probably picking nits, but it’s a recurring annoyance for me. It’s probably not Zito’s fault. Blame whoever directed/edited the thing.

As for Zito’s performance otherwise, I don’t think he embarassed himself, really. But I’ve seen him do much better in commercials. They obviously wrote the story to give him as few things to do off the field as possible. I mean, usually when a guy wins his case, they almost always show the reaction of the guy who won. Not here; in this episode they focused entirely on the reaction of the guy who lost. I’ve never seen that before. Barry Zito, you’ve been found not guilty of assault! What are you going to do now? Barry? Barry? Hey, where’d he go?

When Zito did have to speak, I sensed a “deer in the headlights” look going on. I began to fear the quality of his acting may be declining right along with his K/9 rate. But then I realized he was playing a military guy, so he’s supposed to be a little bit stiff, right? Yeah, that’s it! It’s ACTING, I tell you! ACTING! Sheer genius.

Barry Zito Arrested for Attempted Murder

Barry Zito will stand trial on Friday for assault with a deadly weapon, after hitting a batter in the head with intent to kill. At least, that’s the premise of this week’s episode of JAG on CBS. In his latest artistic endeavor, Zito gives acting a whirl. He portrays a pitcher (what else) in the annual Navy-Marines baseball game who throws a malicious pitch and gets in trouble for it.

There is no doubt in my mind that Zito will be great on the show. His performance as “the weird guy” in the A’s commercial about “What animal would you like to be?” is one of the best thespian performances in baseball history. His timing and delivery was flawless; after hearing his teammates go on and on about lions and horses and eagles and the other usual animal suspects, it is nearly impossible to fail to fall off your chair in stomach-wrenching laughter as Zito delivers the classic line “This is gonna sound weird but…I’m gonna say…a fly.”

Zito won’t be alone in his baseball connections on the show. The father of Diamondbacks first-round pick Conor Jackson will portray, as usual, the Admiral in charge of JAG.

The show will be broadcast on CBS at 9pm ET/PT on Friday, November 21. There’s a preview here.

The Periodic Table of Blogs

Ok, this one is not gonna be a poem. It’s 2:39AM, and I’m tired.

As I wrote recently, I’ve been contemplating changing a few things about this site. In order for a blog to be successful, you need to have people coming back every day. Unfortunately, I simply cannot write baseball poetry every day, or I’ll go nuts. The verses need to come when they want to come.

So I have been planning to expand my writing to include essays. I won’t be doing any sabermetric analysis; there are a gazillion sites that do that. Instead, I intend to look at baseball aesthetically– a side of baseball that the blogosphere is neglecting, and an area I know something about. The science of sabermetrics can explain why teams win, but only the science of aesthetics can explain why fans watch.

I also plan to redesign the site, and add a few features that will make this site more fun and interesting, while still continuing with the baseball poetry. I was hoping to launch the new design around New Year’s.

One of those fun things I’ve been working on is a Periodic Table of Links. Thinking I had about a month and a half before it needed to be done, I was just sort of leisurely working on it. I started trying it out, to see if it was useful. One of the links was to Instapundit, the king of the blogosphere.

Well, even though I had no links to it on my site, Instapundit saw the URL in his referrer logs yesterday, and then linked to it himself. So much for security by obscurity. Suddenly, the whole blogosphere knew about it.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the blogosphere at the time; I was outside painting a playhouse I’ve been building for my kids. Imagine my surprise when I logged on later and found that Instapundit had linked to a page of mine that was incomplete and nobody was supposed to know about!

Well, I’ve been scrambling ever since to make that page presentable. It was intended to be just my personal list o’links, like every other blog has, only with a humorous interface. But thanks to Instapundit, now it’s got some kind of Authority, with a capital A. People want to be on the list. It’s quite strange.

So I guess I’ll be accelerating those changes now; implementing them piece by piece instead of all at once. But that’s for tomorrow to worry about.

Now it’s bedtime. Maybe when I wake in the morning, Patrick Duffy will be in my shower. I’ll think to myself, “Barry Zito’s uncle! What is he doing here?” And since he’s all wet, I’ll wonder if it isn’t Barry Zito’s uncle at all, but the Man From Atlantis, and that will remind me of the weird episode where the Man From Atlantis goes to another planet where water is completely invisible and he runs into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which will make me try to remember whether Kareem is called Roger or Clarence in Airport, which will remind me of the angel named Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, and I’ll think about jumping off a bridge into the water because I’m going insane from a lack of sleep, but the angel will tell me that I mustn’t do that, and I’ll say “what are you gonna do to me, make it so I’ve never been born?” And he’ll say, no, because the man in my shower is not the Man From Atlantis at all; it’s only Bobby Ewing; and so then I’ll ask Bobby Ewing to go get his brother J.R. for me, and I’ll ask J.R. to get that genie friend of his to blink me back in time so I never clicked on that Instapundit link on that half-completed page, so none of this really happened, and I went to bed early and got a good night’s sleep.

And all will be well, and all my friends will love me, and we’ll all gather around the Christmas tree and sing, “Should auld aquaintance be forgot…” And I’ll look up, wink, and say, “Good night, Clarence.”

Farewell to Pat Gillick

Gillick, unlike guys like Sabean,
Would no deals he should have been mabean.
The good thing, I’m guessing,
About never yessing
Is never Giambi-for-Mabrean.

Will replacing Stand Pat with Bavasi
Make Seattle’s GM seem less lasi?
Though I’m sure that it might,
And their present looks bright,
Their future now looks very hasi.

Change or Die

This site’s first year is coming to an end
with 138 verses penned,
200 hits per day, bots excluded,
which is not a lot, so I’ve concluded
it just isn’t worth it, as it now stands,
to keep up the effort this site demands
in this format. Something has to be changed;
this site somehow has to be rearranged
into a new format that can attract
a bigger audience that it has lacked
so far. It must grow or it must die.
Stagnation means death. I am forced to try,
despite my doubts, something more bold and new.
I’ll break to figure it out. What to do?