“We play like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team and the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassed — that’s the word for this team. …”
Who said that back in early June? Why, it was bereft Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano.
I’m convinced Zambrano, who formerly resided in River Forest but has cleaned out his garage in a huff and retired to Sun City, Ariz., doesn’t know what the word “embarrassing” means.
Embarrassing: He who gives up five home runs — two back-to-back — and then tries to embed two pitches in the body of Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, which draws an ejection from the plate umpire, then cleans out his locker during the game — all the while telling staff he’s retiring — and then vanishes.
If you’re a Cubs fan, Zambrano’s antics last Friday in Atlanta ratcheted up your own degree of embarrassment. It went from the zipper being down on your trousers to your trousers being around your ankles, or the realization that you haven’t been wearing trousers all day in the first place. As if the Cubs didn’t already stink enough, Zambrano tossed his big, dirty diaper into the trash heap to make it that much more unbearable.
It was within weeks of this day last year when I pecked out a column deriding Big Z’s temper after he pummeled a Gatorade dispenser in the dugout at U.S. Cellular Field during a game against the White Sox. Cubs GM Jim Hendry should have unloaded him after last season, when he still had some stock — he closed out 2010 with an eight-game win-streak, of course, that came after extensive anger-management sessions enforced by the Cubs.
Big Z is now 30 years old, has pitched for the Cubs for just under a decade. He went from making $340,000 per year early in his career to $18.8 million last season. He’s 6-foot-5, 260 pounds — a child trapped in a man’s body.
In 2004, after being ejected for hitting Jim Edmonds with a pitch because Edmonds had earlier in the game hit a homer off him, Zambrano told reporters: “I don’t have to apologize to anybody. This is not a baby’s game. This is a man’s game.”
Yes, but it seems a baby has been playing a man’s game, and Hendry has been running a daycare at Wrigley.
What I hope for is Hendry to move on as GM, the Mike Quade experiment to end, and peace to come to Big Z’s life. What I hope for is better days for all of us Cubs fans, before we rest in peace.