I went away for the weekend, and didn’t follow the Cubs game on Friday night because I was in transit. The next morning, I picked up a couple of things at Target and the cashier noticed the Cubs hat I had on. He asked me “What happened with the Cubs last night?” and I admitted I hadn’t been following them since the losing was so prevalent this year. He made some remark about how things need to change, and I agreed with him and was on my way.
Later in the day, my brother asked me if I had heard about Zambrano. I told him I hadn’t, and he proceeded to fill me in on the bad outing, and the ejection, and the retirement talk, and everything I had missed from the night before. It became clear to me that the Target cashier was trying to ask me about that, too, but I missed it because I was momentarily out of the loop (literally as well as figuratively).
I still need to write a #DoubleTriple piece about that loss, but for now I’m more intrigued about the Zambrano situation. I literally have gone around the block about him a couple of times over the years, and that isn’t a good thing with the pitcher who’s supposed to be the ace of the staff. If your ace is mentally unstable, that’s not good. But if your ace is actually Ryan Dempster, that’s even worse.
In 2007, the Cubs started out really badly in Lou Piniella’s first season, but seemed to turn it around after Carlos went out and slugged Michael Barrett. It was the first time I had heard about teammates coming to blows–but I’m sure it happens more than I know about–and the fact that it was a pitcher and a catcher going at it made it even stranger than it might otherwise be. But the team started to play better after Barrett was traded, so it was all for the best, as I saw it.
But last year’s meltdown at the Cell pushed me into the “dump Zambrano” camp. Bad enough to go after one of your teammates during a game, but even worse to do it in the White Sox’s ballpark. They ate that up on the South side, as well they should have. I went to a game in St. Louis last summer, on a miserably hot August day, and it seemed that, even though Carlos had been reinstated with the team, nobody on the team wanted anything to do with him during pregame warmups. I thought the Cubs were going to trade him immediately and cut the cord, but this turned out not to be the case. Instead, he pitched really well and pronounced himself cured of the issues he was dealing with, so by the start of this year he was back in the fold, in my mind.
Then I went so far as to have Carlos’s back after his “we stinks” comment earlier this year, when Marmol blew a win and Zambrano accused the Cubs of being a Triple-A team. It was the truth, wasn’t it? You can’t trade somebody just for telling the truth, no matter how unpleasant it was. I even sent out a tweet to the effect that I would consider a move against Carlos as an affront to me as a longstanding Cubs fan. I realize that this had no bearing on anything, but I was supporting Carlos the only way that I knew how (since there was no BlueBattingHelmet in those dark days).
But now, in the wake of acting like a turd once again, I am now done with Carlos Zambrano. Yes, the team has him under contact for this year and next, and they owe him a lot of money. I realize that. I also know that he can be a dominating pitcher, and will put all he can into beating the Cubs whenever he gets the chance in the future. But enough is enough. He’s had way too many strikes by now, and now it’s time to go to the bench for good. And by that I mean someone else’s bench.