Last night was pure disaster for both Carlos Zambrano and the Chicago Cubs. In fact, last night was so bad that you may never see Zambrano wearing a Cubs jersey ever again, or at very least for the remainder of the season.
Things went from bad to worse for Zambrano last night as he just never seemed to have anything working for him, and the Cubs fell behind early 2-0 after Dan Uggla extended his hitting streak on the second pitch in the second inning with a two run home run. That would only be the tip of the volcano that would end up erupting hours later.
Why Manager Mike Quade allowed Zambrano to stay in the game as long as he did, after all signs indicated that this was not his night is anyone’s guess. I have defended Quade all season saying that no one could have success this year with this ball club and that he was learning on the job, but last night may very well have officially taken me off the Quade Train, as he could have easily prevented the nights events from taking place.
After being left in a few innings past when he should have been pulled, Zambrano may have had his biggest mental explosion of his career. With his career high fifth home run flying over the wall in Atlanta, you could tell Zambrano had snapped. The unfortunate target, was long time Cub Killer Chipper Jones who had also hit a homerun off of Zambrano earlier in the evening. The very first pitch to him was well inside, nearly hitting him and making him jump backwards out of the batters box. The second, was exactly the same way which was too much for the home plate umpire to take. He immediately tossed Zambrano who as already half way to the dugout before the ruling was official.
When the ejection was made, I joking posted on my Facebook wall that since Quade refused to take him out, he was going to take himself out of the game. That thought was shared on WGN radio after the game by one of their sports hosts, and seems very logical since they also reported he was wearing a big grin on his face as he was walking to the dugout.
I wish I could say that was where his evening ended, but that is far from the conclusion of this latest blow up. When the game ended, Zambrano told Quade that he was retiring. Following his pronouncement of retirement Zambrano proceeded to clean out his locker before leaving the locker room entirely, walking out on the other 24 players on the team.
Whether or not we can believe that Zambrano will actually retire as he declared last night, we can only wait and see. After all, he did announce that he would retire at the end of his current contract, something some fans found hard to believe at the time. I wonder if those very fans still do not believe how serious he was. Later in the evening reports stated that General Manager Jim Hendry said that the team would respect Zambrano’s wishes, which essentially was calling his bluff.
Either way, whether he does actually retire or not, I can not see him ever putting on a Cubs uniform ever again. If he does retire as he has stated, he would be walking away from nearly $20 Million that he is owed on his contract, including $18 Million next year. That is a lot of money to walk away from, so he may come to his senses in a few days and meet the Cubs in Houston to make his next start after he has had a chance to cool down and clear his head.
If that is the case, Zambrano has a lot of work to do if he wants to earn the respect of his teammates and the fans again. A simple apology might not be enough this time, and no amount of anger management classes can make people believe that he will ever change his ways.
Perhaps the talk of retirement was his way of demanding a trade, but I can not see any team taking him on any more. Not after his latest explosion and temper tantrum. Who, other than the Cubs, wants a player who will allow his emotions to get the better of him? Certainly no one that would be willing to pay anything that is still owed to him. Cubs will have to flat out cut him if he wants to play again, or suspend him if they want to save money.
Fans are already turning on him and hoping that he is serious. They do not easily forgive players who walk out on their team and fans. They still hold a grudge with Sammy Sosa who did the same thing a few years ago, and that was on the last day of the season. Though there are some fans who blame this episode on Quade, and I do too, but that does not excuse Zambrano for acting the way he did. Quade could have prevented this mess, but Zambrano and his usual crazy antics have finally gone too far.