Leading Off

Giants-A’s series becomes tribute to Barry Zito, Tim Hudson

Giants pitcher Tim Hudson, left, and A’s pitcher Barry Zito smile during a news conference prior to a baseball game Sept. 25 in Oakland.
Giants pitcher Tim Hudson, left, and A’s pitcher Barry Zito smile during a news conference prior to a baseball game Sept. 25 in Oakland. The Associated Press

When schedule makers sketched out the six-month 2015 baseball season, they had great foresight to pair the A’s and Giants for a three-game series on the second-to-last weekend.

Why not?

The Giants were the defending World Series champion, and the A’s had been in the postseason for three consecutive Octobers.

The schedule makers must have been thinking of a late-season preview of a possible Bay Bridge World Series.

It was a nice thought, but it was wrong.

Both teams came up short in their postseason drive.

The A’s never actually got out of the driveway, having been stripped of their talent by general manager Billy Beane well before the season started.

The Giants were slowly stripped of their chance to repeat through a series of inflamed backs, strained flexor tendons, broken forearms, oblique strains and more concussions than an NFL team.

But Saturday’s game will be special because it’s Throwback Day at O.co Coliseum, with A’s 37-year-old left-hander Barry Zito, perhaps making the final start of his memorable major-league career, facing his friend and former teammate, Giants 40-year-old right-hander Tim Hudson, who says 2015 will be his last in a big-league uniform.

Zito vs. Hudson, many will say, is just a publicity stunt to sell tickets to see two lame-duck teams playing out the regular season. And to that we say, “Thank you, very much!”

It gives Bay Area baseball fans – A’s fans in particular – a reason to go to the football/baseball stadium with nothing at stake. Would you prefer to watch Ryan Vogelsong pitch against Sean Nolin? Yeah, me neither.

So take down that upper-deck green tarp, because Zito vs. Hudson is a step back in time in Oakland, a chance to watch two of the A’s more dominant pitchers of the Moneyball era. Fans who watched Zito and Hudson as kids can now take children of their own and share stories of what used to be.

It will be a chance for Bay Area baseball fans to say thanks to Zito and Hudson and for the two veterans to tip their caps one last time.

Zito vs. Hudson isn’t a gimmick. It’s a memorable way to end a forgettable season.

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