Monday, June 28, 2010

My Two Cents: Zambrano vs. Lee and the Cubs

I have always liked Carlos Zambrano, including his dugout altercations with Gatorade coolers. The behavior is childish, but amusing to me nonetheless. He has "spirit" I've always said-nothing wrong with that. He added a little entertainment to what at times were otherwise frustrating seasons. He was one of my favorite Cubs players.
Now that you know that, my two cents on the Friday meltdown:
1. "At least he was showing some emotion": Some have quipped that at least Carlos was "showing some emotion"-even claiming that none of the other members of the team (except some noted Byrd) seem to care.  
My two cents: the team doesn't live on television-you might see them 2-3 hours a day during the summer months, but that's it. Just because you don't see them venting frustration on television doesn't mean it's not happening behind the scenes. This isn't "The Truman Show", after all. And, to many showing emotion like Zambrano tends to do is not professional. I don't necessarily agree when it comes to sports (within reason, of course), but some do prefer tantrums be thrown in private.
2. Derrek Lee's performance in the first inning: Zambrano bitched that Lee didn't dive for a line drive that went by him.
My two cents: The video shows Lee made a good effort, but the ball was hit hard, and a dive would have been futile. Zambrano was not only barking up the wrong tree, but doing so against a veteran ballplayer and Gold Glove winner who has always been known for his hard work and professionalism. He was blaming his teammates for a situation of his OWN DOING. This ticked me off more than anything about this incident-if you're going to blame someone for something, at least aim it in the right direction.
3. To yank him, or not to yank him: Some complained that it was foolish to bench Zambrano after his tirade.
My two cents: It amused me that some of the people that were saying this I've also seen note that Zambrano tends to fall apart when he's overly emotional. So okay, I guess he could have stayed in, and the situation allowed to possibly escalate. But seeing how there are so many Cubs players that still today appear to be ticked at the very least by his outburst, what kind of negative impact might his mere presence on the field have had? I say: yank him.
4. Fine dining and fraternizing with the "enemy" after the game: Zambrano kept a dinner date with Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and family after being sent home by Piniella.
My two cents: While I thought this looked bad, it really didn't rattle my cage much. Both Zambrano and Guillen are from Venezuela, they are friends, and the dinner was planned ahead of time. And it appears Guillen gave Zambrano some timely advice to boot. The Cubs need to leave this one alone.
5. Demoted...again: The Cubs have announced that "if and when" Zambrano returns, he will be relegated to the bullpen. Again.
My two cents: I thought the first move of Zambrano to the bullpen was nuts...but this time, go ahead and do it. The first move to the bullpen was an interesting one to me, though. Why do it? To force him to drop his no-trade clause? Or has Lou Piniella really gone off his rocker? My thoughts: there is more going on behind the scenes than what we know. Normally a club would not move a starter who was at least one time considered the "ace" to the bullpen-it would be a slap in the face. But, perhaps that was the intention? What is life really like with Zambrano off-camera?
6. Santo alluded to "problems": In an interview segment about Zambrano Saturday night on ESPN, Ron Santo mentioned "there are problems" with Zambrano, but didn't elaborate.
My two cents: Again, I think there is more to the Zambrano saga than we are aware of. There is the shocking move to the bullpen...then rumors of Zambrano not being an "indefinite" suspension after the latest incident. What is Zambrano like behind closed doors? Does he play well with others? In his latest tirade he blames his team for the bad inning instead of his own crappy does he interact with his teammates when the cameras AREN'T rolling?
7. Zambrano should be traded to the White Sox: Some have suggested Zambrano be traded to the White Sox since he is great buddies with Guillen.
My two cents: Excellent idea.
Is Zambrano the cause of the Cubs problems in general? I seriously doubt it-just as Milton Bradley apparently was not the cause of last year's woes, as much as we might have wanted to believe it. A silver lining to this would be if it energized the team in some way, and if they started winning games on a consistent basis. Or even contend.

But, I'm not holding my breath.