Writing About the Chicago Cubs and Looking at the Team’s Past
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The latest outburst by Carlos Zambrano should be his last one in a Cub uniform. On Friday afternoon, after allowing four runs on just 21 pitches, Zambrano exploded at teammates when he returned to the dugout. He exchanged words with Derrek Lee (who did not look pleased with what Zambrano had to say) before throwing down a cooler, dumping its contents all over the dugout. Piniella then banished Big Z to the clubhouse as most of his teammates stood around looking dumbfounded at what had just occurred. This incident has been such an embarrassment for the organization that they finally said enough is enough and suspended the nearly $19 million per year pitcher. Piniella also announced that if/when Zambrano returns, he will be in the bullpen and Tom Gorzelanny will assume his spot in the rotation.
There is no reason that the team should be forced to put up with Big Z’s antics any longer. The situation is outrageous on so many levels and there is no justification for the way that he acted. Zambrano believed that his teammates were not giving maximum effort, but it comes off looking like a frustrated pitcher having yet another meltdown. It should also be noted that the Cubs have had no direct contact with their pitcher since the incident, however Zambrano reportedly had dinner on Friday night with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. If you are going to make a mistake this egregious, at least stand up and apologize and handle it the right way. Not only has Zambrano been publicly embarrassed by this incident, but the entire organization as well. When something like this happens it gives the perception that the team is dysfunctional. Whether that perception is correct or not is almost impossible to figure out from the outside, but with the way the media operates today they will surely be jumping to that conclusion.
So, what do the Cubs do now? They have already reinstated Gorzelanny back into the rotation which in my mind is a good thing even if this incident never occurred. Simply put, Gorzelanny has been far better than Zambrano this season. It was a shame that they took him out of the rotation in the first place because his performance justified him staying there. The other thing to watch is what will Zambrano be like when he returns to the team. I am assuming that the players will welcome him back, and they will try to manufacture some good vibes upon his return but will Zambrano be able to perform? Looking at what Zambrano has done over the past year and a half, I don’t think anybody can answer that question.
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