Carlos Zambrano is not “fiery” in the “euphemism for Latin” way other big league players are fiery. Carlos Zambrano is a fiery the way a five-alarm blaze is “fiery”. People call Zambrano fiery because it is much more polite than saying “he’s crazy and/or unbalanced”.
As you might have heard, the fiery Cubs hurler had a bad night in Atlanta on Friday. After giving up five home runs to the Braves, Big Z was ejected for repeatedly throwing at Braves third baseman Larry Jones. Zambrano walked off the field without putting up much a fight, even smirking a little before disappearing down the tunnel.
Then it all kicked off.
Reports indicate Alfonso Soriano followed Zambrano to the clubhouse and began shouting (in Spanish) at Big Z. Once Soriano finished and returned to the field, the highly-paid Cubs starter packed up his entire locker, took his nameplate and left the clubhouse.
Fueled by much speculation, it is believed Carlos Zambrano may actually attempt to retire from baseball. Even if he doesn’t retire, the Cubs are actively trying to get out from under his contract, calling his retirement bluff and trying to pocket some cash at the same time. The team placed their $75 million-dollar man on the Disqualified List, essentially suspending him without pay for thirty days. The union will quickly protest this move (they already have?) so look for the Cubs to search for an alternative way to keep Zambrano from the team.
Many around the club believe “enough is enough” which is exactly what analyst Rick Sutcliffe told a local radio station when asked about Z’s future. Cubs columnists and writers have long been after Zambrano’s head and this latest episode only fuel the fire.
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune doesn’t mind playing fast and loose with somebody else’s money.
When Zambrano’s suspension is over, the Cubs need to pay whatever it takes to make him go away. He’s owed a little more than $23 million. That’s an awful lot of money to eat – you should have seen Crane Kenney’s face the day I suggested they release Bradley, then owed $21 million — but it’s not unprecedented.
Despite the instance of Rogers and many other Second City columnists, Zambrano’s teammates are publicly supportive of their long-time teammate. Aramis Ramirez told MLB.com he has been there before and he isn’t the only one.
“I’ve never seen somebody just grab their stuff and leave and retire,” Ramirez said. “And I’ve been around for a while. Players don’t do that. He’s been playing for a while, too. He knows anybody can have a bad game, a bad week, a bad month. It happens to everybody. He’s not the only one.”
If this is the end of Carlos Zambrano’s time in Chicago, it is because he isn’t the pitcher he was once and is being paid an insanely large sum of money. Headaches seem to clear up pretty quickly when the source pitches well. This ugly episode — on both sides — owes more to the five home runs than the midnight dash from the clubhouse.