A Tim Hudson-Barry Zito showdown needs to happen

Tim Hudson is 40 years old. Though he hasn’t written it in stone, the 2015 season will be his final year in the big leagues. Retirement is calling for Hudson, winner of 221 Major League games. After beginning his career with the Oakland Athletics in 1999, Hudson’s career has circled back to the Bay Area, where he has spent the past two seasons with the San Francisco Giants after nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves. As the end of Hudson’s career approaches quickly, there has been little fanfare for the understated veteran. Hudson is a gritty, no-frills player, and fanfare is not what he would have really wanted from his final season. That being said, a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all that Hudson has been in baseball for the past 17 years has presented itself.

Two weeks from now, on September 26, Hudson’s Giants will take on the Athletics in Oakland. It will be just the third time in his career that Hudson will take on the team where his All-Star career began, and what better timing. Hudson’s former teammate and one-time American League Cy Young winner Barry Zito just wrapped up a relatively successful minor league season for the Athletics’ Triple-A squad, but Oakland GM Billy Beane has already made it clear that Zito will not be called up. The timing’s not right, Zito has been injured the past month, and the logistics of the 40-man roster get in the way.

All that being said, how perfect a send-off for both Hudson and Zito would it be to have one final matchup in Oakland where their careers began? Both teams are out of the playoff picture. What does it matter if the Athletics have to shuffle their 40-man around? Zito could surely gut out an inning or two. He deserves better than having the final pitch of his 14-year career come in a minor league game with no one watching. Of course, Zito never lived up to the lofty contract given to him by the Giants, but a 165-win career deserves more recognition.

Without Hudson, Zito, and Mark Mulder, Moneyball doesn’t even happen. Bay Area baseball stays a one-team show. We’re not talking about multiple playoff appearances for the A’s without them. The home runs and walks approach of Moneyball means nothing without three of the best young arms in the league. Retirement ceremonies inevitably turn the game on the field into a sideshow. There’s no reason the Athletics cannot honor Hudson and Zito together come September 26. The pair deserves a special moment in Oakland, but will the Athletics give it to them? I hope so.

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