August 28, 2008
Major props are due to Barry Zito. After almost an entire season of being victimized by the unflattering cameras of the Associated Press, he's decided to take charge and float a few good-looking images to the public himself by becoming a fashion model.
OK, so it wasn't exactly Zito's idea to be featured wearing True Religion jeans on the sides of buses, buildings and on the company's website — a TR executive who spied Zito while flipping through a California tourism magzine is responsible for that.
Still, it seems that Zito is excited to present another side of himself to the world than the 7-year, $126 million bust he's been sadly showing while playing in San Francisco the past two seasons.
For those of you wondering how a 8-15, 5.31 pitcher could endorse anything, know that both Zito and True Religion swear this nameless campaign is not about his regular profession, but rather his looks (which include a hairstyle that probably requires more time each morning than a month's worth of bullpen sessions.)
But, hey, at least he'll have something to fall back on should he ever blow that $126 mil. (And given that most True Religion jeans cost north of $200, he'll also be able to afford them.)
The Zito ads will appear on the sides of buses in Japan. In San Francisco, a True Religion billboard is planned for a building near the intersection of Bush Street and Van Ness Avenue.
"It's crazy,'' Zito said. "I got a text message from (former A's teammate) Eric Byrnes that said, 'Dude, my wife just saw you on a billboard in Vegas. You've got to be (kidding) me!' ''
Zito did not seek out this second career. He told his publicist, Kathy Jacobson, to refuse any endorsement offers - especially when he had an 0-8 record after nine starts.
"I can't be the `Seiko guy,' none of that,'' Zito said. "That just looks bad, like I'm not focusing on baseball. But Kathy said, `No, it's not an endorsement. It's not because of who you are or that you play baseball. This is a modeling gig.' ''
The thing I like best about this story is that with anyone else, there'd be a sizable outrage after noting that he went to Malibu for a fashion shoot on an offday during the season.
With Zito, though, it's likely that most Giants fans would've rather he stayed there.