Carlos Zambrano is an embarrassment to the Chicago Cubs and an embarrassment to Major League Baseball.
After giving up five home runs Friday against the Braves, throwing two pitches at Chipper Jones, then getting ejected, Zambrano left the ballpark after cleaning out his locker. He told the team he was retiring.
The Cubs and Major League Baseball were not that lucky of course. Within a couple hours, Zambrano returned and brought his things back. But the damage was done. As I’m sure Zambrano was crying himself to sleep last night because players had the audacity to hit off him (and hit well I might add), the Cubs were contemplating Zambrano’s punishment. When they came up with it, the brought the hammer down on him. A 30-game suspension with no pay.
Carlos Zambrano’s actions and headaches inspired me to take a closer look at his career. Through all the blow-ups, the anger management sessions, the crippled water coolers, and fiery dug-out altercations, has Zambrano been worth it?
Zambrano came up in 2001 and promptly posted a 15.26 ERA in 7.2 innings. After a short demotion back to Triple-A, he made his way back to the show and won 4 games while losing 8. He finally broke out in 2003 with a 13-11 record and never looked back. Zambrano has a career record of 125-81, with an ERA of 3.60
However, Big Z has had more than his fair share if temper tantrums. While he may be able to control things when he is on the mound, Zambrano can’t control things the other four days between starts. Like a spoiled child, Zambrano demands to be the center of attention, acts out when things don’t go his way, and has no respect for anyone around him.
Wins are great, but team chemistry is better. It comes as no surprise that the Cubs continue to struggle despite their payroll and “household name” players. When no one trusts anyone in the club house, cohesiveness as a team becomes nearly impossible.
So as Zambrano takes a 30-day vacation from his team and teammates, the Cubs will have a chance to breath. The dug-out will feel a little bigger. The world will seem a little brighter. Zambrano’s death-grip on the Cubs’ morale has been released for 30 days and the city of Chicago can celebrate alongside Zambrano’s scorned and disgusted teammates.
There’s a fine line between emotion that drives a player and self-centered rage that destroys a team. For Zambrano, that line is so far back in the distance, he can’t even see it anymore.