If Barry Zito were an actor, what kind of tree would he be?
by Ken Arneson
[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.