Big Z can’t leave town without me throwing in my two cents.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: No one was more fun to watch on the baseball diamond, when he was having fun playing baseball, than Carlos Zambrano. Whether swinging from his heels, pointing skyward on his way back to the dugout, or hustling on the bases, the man played his heart out. And I’m happy to say, those are the moments I’ll remember most.
But there were other moments too. Moments no one likes to see, or read about. Some of them we over-reacted to, and some we weren’t sure how to react. Remember that one kid in school who your teacher didn’t know how to handle or control, and may have been slightly afraid of? That was Carlos as a Cub.
Is that why fans fell out of love with him? Did he fall out of love with us? Remember when we booed him for pitching a bad game? Do you recall our criticism for running hard to first base? Running hard to first base! I know he’s a pitcher, but all the flack Aramis got for not sprinting all-out, and we actually knocked Z’s hustle! Clubhouse cancer? I don’t buy that for a second. Have a look at some of the photos my friend Lizzy blogged. Does this look like a bad teammate? I don’t think so. He looks like a guy I would always want on my side. Especially when he had his stuff working.
I’ll miss Carlos Zambrano. Admittedly, not the dugout dust-ups. You push and shove your friends and co-workers, but you don’t send them to the hospital. I know we made a lot of jokes about “going to dinner”, but you don’t hang out with the rival manager the night you get sent home early for losing your cool on the field. It wasn’t about having a meal folks. Get real. I won’t miss the uncoachable times when he wouldn’t put down the Red Bull and pick up some Gatorade for the sake of his own performance. What I’ll miss are his talent, his effort, his desire to be great, and that smile.
I will miss having #38 as a Cub. Like I miss Aramis. And Sammy. And Gracie. Great Cubs, guys I knew I could always root for, who were always worth watching, even when we were down 9-2, or 18.5 games out of first. Was it time for Z to go? Yeah, I think it probably was. I was ready to welcome him back, because I’d still rather have him pitching for me than to me. But I’ll fall in love with another pitcher soon (I guess it won’t be Andrew Cashner though), and then another, and another. They won’t be a Z though. And that makes me sad.
Just think of the fun Marlins fans are gonna have.