Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zambrano's Outburst Completes Demise of My Jersey Collection

Sometimes late at night, I swear I can hear giggling coming from my closet.  Like junior high campers who can't help but laugh at a juvenile joke involving boogers after the camp counselor has declared, "Lights out!," I swear I can hear the muffled snickers coming from my closet. 

I'll open the doors and find nothing but the jerseys hanging there silently.  They are never actually moving, but it really feels like I just missed catching them slapping each other on the backs in hysterics.  Instead, they stare back from their hangers and mock my pain silently.

Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Maddux, and Clement.  I can't even look at them anymore, much less wear any of them.

Yeah, I had a Clement jersey.  In 2004, I purchased Maddux to go along with my Wood, Prior, and Zambrano jerseys from 2003.  I thought about getting a Dusty Baker jersey for the days when the big four didn't pitch, but instead settled on Clement, knowing I was basically throwing my money away on that one.

By the middle of 2005, I had stopped wearing the jerseys altogether.  I was convinced my purchases made out of pride and hubris were surely the reason the baseball gods had taken a team that had come within five outs of the World Series and reduced it to the baseball equivalent of a clown car.  Of course, nothing could reverse the steady flow of suckiness at Clark and Addison that year (or the next), so the jerseys hung in my closet untouched evermore.

Even if I wanted to wear them, each of their relevance to the team fell away one by one.  Clement was gone in 2005.  Maddux followed him later that year, though as an all-time great and now-Hall-of-Famer, his jersey maintained a certain amount of wearability that dwarfs the others to this day.

Prior pitched his last game for the Cubs (and in the major leagues) in 2006, leaving us all shaking our heads with what could have been, and in our minds, what SHOULD have been.  His jersey hangs as useless as his right arm became after the continuous injuries.

Wood hung on a bit longer, though as a shadow of his Kid K self that we pre-ordained for Cooperstown on that rainy day in May 1998.  He eventually ended up in the bullpen and allowed to leave via free agency after the 2008 season.  He has continued to slide backwards into mediocrity in Cleveland where, thankfully, not many people notice.

Zambrano was the last jersey standing.  If there was a jersey I could have worn to a game over the past five years, it was Zambrano's.  Until this year, he never had an ERA over 3.95 in any season other than his seven inning rookie debut year.  His ERA+ was never lower than 111.  His win percentage until this season was .607, which is pretty decent for a team that had a .510 win percentage over that same span.

Then this happened on Friday:

Today, Gordon Wittenmeyer reports in the Sun-Times that Carlos Zambrano isn't necessarily planning on apologizing for his outburst against his team, and furthermore, it was all Derrek Lee's fault for overreacting.

Now, whatever you think about Carlos Zambrano, you have to concede that picking a two-front battle against Derrek Lee in both the clubhouse and in the media is a lot like opening up a second front by invading Russia.  It just doesn't work.  Ever.

Based on Wittenmeyer's account, Zambrano doesn't seem to have many friends left in the Cubs clubhouse:

''If he wants to bring a lot of negatives into the team, it's better to not have him,'' said Soriano, who has spoken up as a leader since Friday, as he did when Bradley had a similar blowout about this time last season. ''It's enough what we've got. We have a lot of negative things here in this team, and we don't want more.''


''Carlos is a very good friend of mine, but this is my team, too,'' Silva said after pitching Saturday night. ''If I'm going to have a good success and have a good year, I need to give my support to my team. That's what I'm doing right now. We are a team, and we stick together.

''Man, Derrek Lee is such a special guy. And I respect that guy so much. And I don't know what Carlos was trying to do yesterday, but I think it was the wrong time, the wrong guy and the wrong place, too. I don't know what happened to him in the past, but what happened yesterday was very hard for everybody.''

Those are the diplomatic answers from guys who have liked Zambrano in the past going on the record.  The guys giving anonymous quotes weren't as diplomatic:
''Enough is enough,'' one said.
''Anybody who believes [Zambrano's version] must be smoking something.''
So we are left with an angry player who makes a crapload of money and is not performing well on the field.
The MLBPA won't allow him to be suspended forever, so the Cubs will have to do something with him.  It is clear he's not really wanted around the Cubs anymore, so the Cubs will probably end up having to trade a 29-year old pitcher at about one penny on the dollar exchange rate.
Whatever happens, it is almost certain that my Carlos Zambrano jersey will become the loudest heckler in my closet as I try to fall asleep at night.  Maybe I should buy a Derrek Lee jersey that can tell it to shut the fuck up.
It's a Way of Life.


Ryan said...

Laughed out loud at the Derrek Lee jersey part. Love your stuff man.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff....Zambrano is a joke....can't believe the Cubs rolled the dice on that headcase....his downside far outweighs his upside.

Aisle 424 said...

Well, they weren't going to let a then 26-year old pitcher who had been the best pitcher on their staff and the best product from their farm system for years walk away via free agency.

At the time, the contract was in line for what a pitcher of his pedigree could have expected on the open market, and I'm almost certain he could have gotten more from another team.

This year is the first year where his stats have been bad and I'm not entirely sure it isn't because something is wrong with him physically. My bet is that he will get traded to another team for someone equivalent to the AA version of Aaron Miles (the the Cubs will still pay the bulk of his salary) and he will come back the next couple of years for a new team and make the Cubs regret they dicked around with him so much when he struggled.

Then my jersey will laugh even harder.

Duey23 said...

I guess this is why I have never bought a Cubs jersey with a player's name on it. I could easily take the safe ones, the retired ones, hell, even wear a 17 with GRACE on the back, but for as many of them that I absolutely will LOVE forever, there's are so many more who I just can't stomach to think about.

I think the dugout shot of Lee screaming "bullsh*t" at Carlos at least 3 times in a row says it all. I was flabbergasted that he'd even get in Lee's face for as many times as that man has had to dig the sh*t thrown in the dirt to him from any one of the midgets in the infield or called up fill-ins for Ramirez.

Time to blow this team up and blow it up good. Start moving players now because each successive day will only either damage their value with continuing crappy performances or decrease the number of teams who actually think they have a chance that we can peddle them to.

I don't think there's ever been a year where I've felt so strongly about doing the "fire sale" as this one.

Glad I'm going to see a couple Kane County Cougar games over the next 2 months. At least if there's comedy in the play, it'll be expected and I'll just be happy that there's plenty of $5 microbrews to hammer back.

Anonymous said...

Carlos Zambrano is a bastard!!! I can't wait till he's gone from the Cubs organization. I've been a Cub fan for decades, with their ups and downs, mostly their downs as we all know. However, this guy is intolerable. I give credit to Derrek Lee for not lowering himself to Zambranos level avoiding a wider seen. I don't know what the Cubs are waiting for... enough!!!!

LoyalCubFan said...

DeRosa, Wood, Fox, Johnson, Miles, Edmonds, and Harden....these are just some of the my jerseys that heckle me.

At least I can still wear my Edgar Tovar jersey with pride!

Aisle 424 said...

Wow. You should probably just burn the Miles jersey.

LoyalCubFan said...

Oops...after reading that comment, I forgot to include my Bradley jersey in the list. Funny how talk about burning a jersey made me remember Bradley.

Emily/Randomability said...

I had a Sosa shirt. Not a jersey, just a shirt. I had to get rid of it. ~sigh~

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