Pro Baseball: Is the Windy City finally done with Carlos Zambrano?

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

In addition to throwing his most recent temper tantrum, has Chicago Cubs pitcher — and sometimes screwball — Carlos Zambrano also thrown his final fastball as a member of the Cubs? Many Chicago fans and several media pundits have been speculating that Zambrano has finally crossed the line and wore out his welcome in the Windy City.

Zambrano’s most recent troubles began last Friday night (Aug. 12) in a game against the Atlanta Braves. He was tagged for five home runs in the first five innings of the game, including back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning by Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla.

After Uggla’s homer — his second of the game — Zambrano was visited by pitching coach Mark Riggins. Following their conversation, Zambrano then threw two inside pitches at the next Braves batter, third baseman Chipper Jones. The second one caused Jones to jump all the way out of the batter’s box. Plate umpire Tim Timmons decided he’d seen enough and immediately ejected Zambrano.

Zambrano exited the field and swiftly made his way into the Cubs’ clubhouse. Moments later, the “Big Z” had cleaned out his locker and told clubhouse personnel he was retiring and leaving the team.

Cubs Manager Mike Quade was perplexed by the chain of events that occurred. “I came in, saw there was an empty locker, then I heard that he was retiring, that he had left.”

Chicago’s general manager, Jim Hendry, responded to Zambrano’s child-like behavior by grounding the $18 million-a-year hothead. More precisely, he officially placed him on the 30-day disqualification list. That means he can’t have any contact with the club, and he will not be able to collect his fat paycheck during the disqualification.

Zambrano and his agent have already said they will appeal the suspension to the union. Regardless of the outcome of the union’s decision, I think the Cubs have had enough of his antics.

Zambrano has a long track record of unsportsmanlike conduct as a member of the Cubs.

Earlier this season (June 4), he bashed his teammates in St. Louis, calling them “Triple-A players” after the team lost a 10-inning game on an Albert Pujols walk-off home run. He apologized to the entire team the following day in Cincinnati.

Last year, on June 25, Zambrano had a dugout blowup with then-Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee at U.S. Cellular Field. Zambrano was suspended for two days before being placed on baseball’s restricted list for six weeks. Zambrano also went through eight months of anger management sessions after the incident with Lee.

I think the time has finally come for the Cubs to simply say two words to Mr. Zambrano: “Adios, Carlos!” Let some other team deal with the headcase.

From the Aug. 17-23, 2011, issue

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