Saturday, August 18, 2007

Arenas Loans "Agent Zero" To Webb

He’s the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. He’s thrown 42 consecutive scoreless innings for the team with the best record in the National League. However, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb still lags well behind injured teammate Randy Johnson in terms of national recognition. Skilled in the art of promotion, Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas has decided to lend a hand to Arizona’s ace. Arenas has loaned his “Agent Zero” moniker to Webb for the next two months.

The label is highly appropriate for the right-hander, since opposing lineups have put up nothing but zeroes against him since July 20. Friday night at Turner Field, Webb tossed a complete game two-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves. It was his third consecutive complete game shutout and left him 17 scoreless innings short of the all-time record, set by Orel Hershiser in 1988. Webb’s dominance has delighted teammates, with the exception of daredevil outfielder Eric Byrnes. Webb’s devastating sinker results in so many ground ball outs, it provides Byrnes with no opportunities to smash full-speed into walls.

In explaining his decision, Arenas reasoned that since he’s in the off-season, he can’t take full advantage of “Agent Zero” for the time being. Loaning it out to Webb brings the man known as “Hibachi,” “The Black President,” and “The East Coast Assassin” down to a dangerously low 78 nicknames. However, Arenas plans to reclaim “Agent Zero” as he opens the NBA season at Indiana on October 31, so Webb will be on his own if he pitches Game 6 of the World Series that night. Arenas was further motivated to loan out his nickname based on his enjoyment from writing a highly popular blog on After hearing that blog is short for “web log,” he decided he should “give something back and help out a dude named Webb.”

Arenas does feel a connection with Webb in many ways. Brandon currently plays for Arizona, as Gilbert did in college. Webb has 60 career wins, equaling Arenas’s career-high in points. Also, both of them were Wildcats in college. Webb played at Kentucky, so expect Fox and TBS to capitalize on that background if he pitches in the postseason. Each of his starts will feature approximately 50 crowd shots of Ashley Judd.

Arenas has attached some conditions on the use of “Agent Zero” by Webb. After each start, the pitcher must hurl his jersey into the stands. Also, Webb must mimic Gilbert’s free throw ritual before every pitch. Therefore, the right-hander will spin the baseball around his waist and dribble it three times on the mound before tossing it to home plate. Webb has dismissed concerns that this activity would result in a balk, pointing out that he never has base-runners these days. Webb will not have to shout “Hibachi!” after each out, since the home fans in Phoenix don’t need any more reminders of things that are really hot.

Some Diamondback fans have expressed concern that the “Agent Zero” nickname could leave Webb susceptible to a season-ending knee injury, as Arenas suffered before last spring’s playoffs. However, the ace downplayed those fears, noting that he’s been a workhorse who exceeded 200 innings in each of the previous three seasons. Webb added that unlike Arenas, he’s highly unlikely to have Gerald Wallace fall into his leg while he’s on the mound.

Expecting to be fully healthy when the NBA season begins, Arenas is more eager than ever to pile up the points. In the meantime, the new Agent Zero will be keeping scores low.