Can the Cubs count on Carlos Zambrano?

by on September 25, 2008 · 4 comments

I try my best to stick with strictly Cards talk here – and try to hold my general contempt for the Cubs as the only topic to a minimum…but this was just too good to pass up.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I caught this episode of events while flipping through the MLB channels on my XM radio last night trying to find the Cardinals-D’Backs game. There is just something about Dave Campbell (at least it sounded like him) blurting out, “Carlos Zambrano is yelling and gesturing at his catcher, Henry Blanco – he is an emotional wreck right now!” that will likely always catch my attention.

ESPN’s recap of the game barely paid lip service to what I understood to have happened.

ESPN’s blurb on Zambrano’s latest episode:

…He muttered and glared at plate umpire Jim Wolf in the third inning after his 3-2 pitch to Wright with the bases loaded was called low and outside.

Given a 1-0 lead on DeRosa’s second-inning homer, Zambrano lost his control and composure in the third, when he walked Wright the bases loaded and Delgado sent a high 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his second slam this season and the 13th of his career. Following a dismal start, Delgado has 27 homers and 79 RBIs since June 27.

Well that seems rather pedestrian, doesn’t it? Lots of pitchers get upset with the home plate umpire, right?

Here is a real rough transcript of what I heard on the radio last night:

Zambrano had already managed to walk in a run by giving a free pass to David Wright by the time I tuned in.

Zambrano at that point was glaring at the home plate umpire, and proceeded to make several angry gestures and yell at his catcher, Henry Blanco.

Carlos Delgado came to the plate, with two outs.  Aramis Ramirez was playing deep at third, being that the Cubs only needed one out.

Jose Reyes took that opportunity to dance, according to the radio guys, “about 30-35 feet down the line.”  Of course this drove Zambrano, already in a fragile state of mind, absolutely insane.  He took a step off the mound as if he were going to run Reyes down on foot (could you imagine the sheer joy of watching that doggle of boon?), and then proceeded to run his mouth at Reyes, who barely retreated toward the bag at all.

Zambrano made several pitches to Delgado, running him to a 2-2 count.  Zambrano’s 2-2 pitch to Delgado just barely missed the strike zone, according to the home plate umpire.  Zambrano turned his back and stomped back to the mound, throwing a hissy fit, BEFORE Blanco could throw the ball back to him!  Yet another blatant show of disrespect for the umpire.

Reyes danced off of third even farther on 3-2, again drawing the ire and another confrontation with Zambrano.

The 3-2 pitch to Delgado was pounded over the left-center wall for a grand slam, giving the Mets a 5-1 lead.

Zambrano got the third out, made it through the 4th, then was pulled in the 5th with the Mets again threatening.

So Zambrano came back from his shoulder injury to throw a no-hitter, and the Cubs thought they were smooth sailing with the big right-hander.  Since then, he has proceeded to get lit up by the Cardinals, and have another classic Carlos meltdown against the Mets.

There is already talk, if not a pretty widely believed fact, that Ryan Dempster will be the Cubs’ Game 1 starter in the NL Division Series.

The real question is, which Zambrano will show up when it is his time to throw?  The no-hitter Carlos, the unhittable power pitcher with great stuff (which he supposedly had last night too, if not for his antics)?  Or will it be the mental midget Carlos, the immense talent who battles an equally immense temper?  The Cubs have been waiting pretty much all of Zambrano’s career waiting for him to hop off of his personal emotional roller-coaster, which it seems he’s not ready to leave behind just yet.  Perhaps the real question is, will the Cubs be paying for some expensive years of a mental wreck at the end of Zambrano’s recently signed deal?

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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Sarah-bug September 25, 2008

doggle of boon?

Anyway, I still love watching Big Z pitch (revoke my Cardinals membership privileges if you must). When he’s got his head on straight he’s sobresaliente. Very impressive. Plus, as you demonstrated, when he’s angry it can be very entertaining.

PHE September 25, 2008

Yes, a variation on boondoggle. 🙂

I agree with you to a certain extent. Zambrano is certainly a great talent, and it’s fun watching him pitch and dominate (as long as it isn’t against the Cardinals). Also, it is equally fun watching him act like a big baby for half of his starts.

I loved Piniella putting Z in his place when he got bombed by the Cardinals last week.

Sarah-bug September 25, 2008

Yeah, if there’s any manager out there who can effectively deal with Z, it’s got to be Sweet Lou.

I’m very sorry I missed the Cubs-Mets game. S’pose there’ll be a re-match in the playoffs?

PHE September 25, 2008

Yeah, but only because Lou is more stubborn than Carlos.

I am not taking anything for granted in the NL Wild Card race right now – still very much anyone’s prize to claim I think.

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