Another Chapter in the Tale of Big Z
Let me start by saying that I love Carlos Zambrano. He obviously loves the game and there’s never a doubt he gives it everything he has to win games for the Cubs. Not to mention he is a phenomenal pitcher with disgusting stuff when he is on. Oh, and he has been known to mash a home run or two.
Few athletes though, have take you on a roller coaster like Big Z. One of the first times I saw him pitch in person, he was a little wild early, then settled down and started dealing. He was carrying a no hitter through the top of the fourth when Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch from San Diego’s Chris Young and a brawl ensued. Carlos had apparently been in the clubhouse, but the hell if he was going to miss out on the brew-ha-ha. Out came Big Z, belt in hand ready to rock.
Stormin’ Norman was next to me at the game when I said “there’s Big Z!” Followed by, “he’s got a belt!” We went from hoping to see a no hitter to saying things like “he can’t get thrown out, he is throwing a…gem.” Then it turned to the intriguing question of whether Zambrano would throw at a Padre in a 0-0 game in which he had a no-no going. He did not and he continued to deal. As the game went on the anticipation ratcheted back up as the no-no stretched to the eighth inning.
It was broken up by an infield single in the eighth, but in a 0-0 game, Zambrano was still going for the win and a gem of an outing. The roller coaster ended with a Padre solo shot in the ninth and a 1-0 Cubs loss. It was my first in many up and down moments watching Carlos. There were horrible starts where he got big hits at the plate, there was the caffeine fiasco, the dugout fight (I was also at that game), the hand injury from “emailing all night” and then the no-hitter at Miller Park last year in the midst of a horrible streak.
Well yesterday Carlos Zambrano, as he does so well, had fans loving him and shaking their heads at the same time. Zambrano, who usually makes like a lumberjack at the plate, dropped down a perfect dainty bunt and hauled it down to first. The glory of a sweet play and loud cheers subsided quickly though as it was clear Carlos had hurt himself lunging for first base, a big no-no for base runners. In that one play I got a glimpse of my entire experience with Zambrano.
I love him for that bunt and the hustle to first base, but then the decision to lunge for the base leaves me shaking my head. I know a lot of players do it, but when you’re an ace just run through the base (Cochran’d). Hopefully this doesn’t end up in a stint on the DL, but regardless of when Z returns I’m sure we’ll have plenty more opportunities to “experience” Carlos.