Zito relishes opportunity to inflate his next contract
The Associated Press
In the lively, carefree Oakland A's clubhouse, no player is reveling in the team's playoff run quite like free-agent-to-be Barry Zito.
"Oh wow, I might hit the jackpot," a giddy Zito announced, lighting a cigar with a $100 bill. "I only play this game for one reason, and that's to win. And the people who win get paid a whole lot, which is awesome. Remember Paul Konerko and Jason Varitek? Varitek hit 18 homers and the Red Sox threw him 10 million bucks. My start against Minnesota probably got me overpaid another $2 million, and I can't wait to see what'll happen next."
When asked about the significance of pitching Game One of the ALCS tonight, Zito explained, "It's like I have a scratch-and-win lottery ticket and '$15 Million' has appeared twice already. If I can go seven innings tonight and give up two runs, cha-ching, this ticket's a winner."
On Saturday, upon hearing that the Yankees and their struggling pitching staff had been eliminated from the Division Series, Zito's eyes reportedly turned into dollar signs as he bounced around the room emitting cash register noises. An even more peculiar incident occurred at a FOX LCS kickoff press conference on Monday when Mets GM Omar Minaya walked by Zito and Zito apparently attempted to imitate a cartoonish "aaaooogaahhh!" sound and his tongue unravelled onto the floor like a red carpet.
Still, Zito insists he's just trying to live in the moment and enjoy the national spotlight. "I feel like a kid in a candy store," he said. "The Yankees own the store, and instead of candy it's money, and they give it to you."