I’m starting to wonder if there is some psychic connection between Carlos Zambrano and Sammy Sosa that caused the Chicago portion of their professional baseball careers to self-destruct in the same manner.
Both of them will be remembered by Chicago Cubs fans as the one-time star ballplayers who deserted their team, and who never again donned the uniform of the baby blue bears.
IN THE CASE of Zambrano, that is not yet official. But I would think it highly unlikely than Carlos will ever again pitch in Wrigley Field for the home team. Although I would get a kick out of it if he signed on with some other ballclub, then came back to beat up on the Cubs.
For the unwarranted arrogance we get all too often from Cubs fans, it would serve them right.
In fact, I would sooner expect the sight of Sosa making a comeback to Major League Baseball with the Cubs, before I would expect to see Zambrano pitching in Chicago for the Cubs.
Because I have to admit that it is the demise of Sosa (who once was the baseball demi-god who was THE reason national baseball people paid any attention to the Cubs) back in 2004 is replaying in my mind now that we’re seeing Zambrano on his way out.
FOR THOSE WITH short memories, the only man who three times hit more than 60 home runs in a single season played his last game with the Cubs seven years ago – and walked out on the team in mid-game of the last game of what turned out to be a crummy season.
One not all that different from this year, if you want to be honest. Then again, the idea of crummy seasons by the Chicago Cubs comes up so often that they all tend to blend together into a mass.
Zambrano differs in that his Cubs team this season still has just over 40 games to play – which means Carlos in theory would be asked to start about seven or eight more games.
But Sosa supposedly left because he didn’t see the point of sticking around for the final few innings of a depressing season. Just as Zambrano supposedly threw a tantrum on Friday about the poor play of his ballclub, then left – using the word “retirement” to describe his departure. Neither seems to be missed. Sosa's CD player was smashed by a teammate after he left, while one of Zambrano's teammates has already moved some clothes and a guitar into what would have been Zambrano's locker at Turner Field in Atlanta.
ONE MIGHT ARGUE these two are overly-competitive people who were frustrated and let the more juvenile part of their temperaments get the best of them. Would-be winners having a tantrum that in many ways would be best ignored.
But Chicago Cubs fans are going to go out of their way to demonize both men – my guess as part of their mental efforts to justify why their ballclub played so pathetically (after all, it is filled with head cases).
Sosa is persona non grata at Wrigley Field these days, and Zambrano has now turned himself into nothing more than Sosa-Squared when it comes to the minds of Cubs fans.
Just another head case, although I’m wondering how many of their fans will make the additional leap and try to think of them as Latin American head cases? You just know there will be a couple of knuckleheads who will think that way. So this is my calling-out of them, in advance, for ethnic-inspired trash talk.
THE ONLY REAL question remaining with Zambrano is whether the Cubs will get stuck having to pay him any of the remaining $24 million that remains on his contract for this season and 2012.
Cubs fans I have heard seem to think he gets nothing, although I suspect the Cubs ultimately will give him some money to get him to go away. Then, we’ll have to see where he winds up for next season (even though I suspect many Cubs fans would like him to wind up with the Lake County Fielders – the suburban Zion-based independent league ballclub that isn’t even sure which league it plays in these days).
Because I suspect he still can pitch. And probably, he will do much better by getting away from the Wrigley ivy and all of its trivial distractions.
I only hope the White Sox don’t get any silly ideas about trying to sign him – even though I know that his family and the Guillen family are friendly (they’re all fellow Venezolanos).
THAT TEAM HAS enough distractions already – so many that it may well be the highlight of the season that on Sunday, they beat the Kansas City Royals and restored themselves to a perfect .500 winning percentage (60-60, with 42 more games to play).
Besides, I’d rather see that team try to work out a deal by which they keep Mark Buehrle – the guy who really was the best pitcher in Chicago during the first decade of the 21st Century (no matter how many Cubs fans tried to claim it was Carlos).