Wisch: Giving An ‘A’ To Z – At Least Zambrano Cares

By Dave Wischnowsky-–

CHICAGO (CBS) As the Cubs continue to crumble into dust – and oblivion – some people this week are trying to demonize Carlos Zambrano for speaking his mind.

Others, meanwhile, seem ready to canonize him for speaking the truth.

Me? Well, after his history of beating catchers, water coolers and, far too often, himself, I’m not exactly eager to christen Zambrano as St. Carlos after Sunday’s fire-and-brimstone speech about the Cubs, but I do mostly agree with his assessment of the team.

And I’m actually a little envious of him.

Now, that has nothing to do with Zambrano’s paycheck (well, maybe a little), but rather everything to do with the fact that I just can’t seem to muster the kind of energy about this current incarnation of the Cubs that Big Z generated when he ripped his team a new one.

Perhaps I need anger management.

“We should know better than this. We play like a Triple-A team,” Zambrano now famously spouted after the Cubs lost in extra innings and were swept in St. Louis. “This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team and the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassed – that’s the word for this team.

“We should know better than what we (did) on the field. We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a good a fastball hitter. We should know that as a team. We should play better here. We stink. That’s all I have to say.”

Truth is, it’s more than I can figure out to say these days about the only team in Major League Baseball that hasn’t yet won even three games in a row – and very well might not all season long.

The Cubs do, however, do have this losing streak stuff down pat, having now dropped seven in a row after Monday’s 8-2 decision in Cincinnati.

And far worse than anger, many fans of the Increasingly Less Lovable Losers are becoming apathetic about the team. And while Zambrano’s comments on Sunday might have been a bit (or a lot) bombastic, they weren’t wrong. Nor do I think they were misplaced.

In fact, I think the Cubs should be pleased that at least somebody still cares about this team – even if he isn’t a paying customer.

“I just want to get together with this team and play better, be a good leader for this team, do the best I can to help this team win a ballgame,” Zambrano told reporters on Monday, before the Cubs’ loss to the Reds. “We can be 11, 12, 15 games out, but we start winning games, who knows?

“It’s not over yet. Believe me guys, it’s not over for the Cubs.”

If you say so, Carlos. I admire the optimism, but why don’t you get back to me when the Cubs actually sweep a team.

Even a Triple-A one.

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: Giving An A To Z – At Least Zambrano Cares

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    For the first time in a long time (that I can recall), Z going nuts was not for a nutty reason, or for an inherently selfish or narcissistic reason.

    Very well-written Dave.

    On the original Score posting about the news of Z’s meltdown, someone (was it Murph’s Upper-Lip??, I can’t recall) said that the radio sound-bite made Z seem like Ozzie. But, then, that suggests that such as arse-whuppin’ ought to have been done by the Manager. [Maybe your Ryno has the fire blog is making more sense to me…even though I thought that JohnnyCakes was the best available option this past off-season].

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      While Zambrano, without a doubt, deserves his share of criticism (and then some) about his behavior over the years, I think that ripping him for this outburst is very misguided. Sure, he called out his teammates — someone needs to — but throughout his entire rant he used the word “we” not “they.”

      I actually thought his quotes did sound Ozzie-esque, and while I think Ozzie sounds Ozzie-esque too often, I think the Cubs need a dose (or 10) of that right about now. I would like to see Quade show more fire, or something, because clearly things ain’t working on the North Side.

      (And, yes, I would still like to see Sandberg in the managerial seat at Wrigley. I suspect that eventually that will come to pass — but Hendry will have to be gone first, too.)

      • Tim Yonke

        If everyone played the game as hard as Zambrano, the Cubs’ fortunes would be much better. He may the an bit crazy, but he gives you everything he’s got on the field, pitching, hitting or fielding. The same can’t be said for players like Soriano or Ramirez.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Very insightful Dave as to the we/they.

        Not to take us astray, but I often meet with the heads of various work units (from CEOs to unit-chiefs of various titles). THE key diagnostic tool for me listening with a third ear, is whether the leader speaks of “I” and “my team, my whomever” or speaks of “we”. I can guarantee you that there is a great deal more litigation in the “I” places than in the “we” places.
        Just a tidbit I have picked up over the past 31 years.

      • Dave Wischnowsky

        @Tim, I completely agree. Really, over the years, I’ve for the most part liked Zambrano’s fire. His explosion at U.S. Cellular and then argument with Derrek Lee in the dugout last season, however, was too much.

        The guy is a knucklehead — for example, his regular cramping from apparently drinking energy drinks and not water during games — but he puts more passion into his game (including, of course, at the plate) than the rest of the Cubs combined. Now that Zambrano has seemingly learned how to pitch again with a 90 mph fastball and not just throw with a 96 mph one, he’s arguably been the Cubs’ best player this season. And has played a lot harder than the other guys you mentioned.

        @Arse, that’s a very interesting tidbit about human behavior and mindsets. I mean, no matter the environment, whether it be on a baseball field in an ad agency or in a corporate boardroom, the team concept and “I” and “We” are applicable. And you can learn a ton about people by just really listening to them (it’s amazing how rarely many people seem to actually do that.)

        In the case of Zambrano, I personally think he phrased his rant quite well on Sunday. Some people just blindly jumped all over it because it was Carlos Zambrano doing the ranting, but I don’t have a problem with anything he said. It was true and I think something that needed to be said — problem is, I just don’t know that it will make any difference.

  • tom sharp

    I used to care too, but I outgrew it! I keep wondering who wants to keep spending over $100/game to watch minor league millionaires stumble around in Wrigley Field. It ain’t me babe!

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