Carlos Zambrano is one of my favorite players. He brings passion and joy to playing, he's always out there trying his best and bringing his "A" game every time he steps on the field. He got hurt attempting to catch the Marlins sleeping and beating out a bunt.
But really, Z -- it's time to grow up. You will be 28 years old on Monday. Your ranting and raving today is probably going to cost you a start -- replays clearly showed contact between you and plate umpire Mark Carlson, although it also appeared that Carlson deliberately advanced toward Z, almost as if he wanted to make contact himself so as to get another suspension to his credit -- and then, your histrionics in throwing the ball almost to the LF wall and your glove toward the dugout has to worry your manager. After throwing 114 pitches, you heave the ball 300 feet? Better have your shoulder looked at, too. I looked at a replay of the ejection and subsequent argument. After the contact was made, it looked as if Z turned to Carlson and said, "You touched me first, I'm ejecting YOU!" And he has a point. Umpires are out of control and I hope Bob Watson and the disciplinary people around him take a very close look at the video. Z was wrong; he certainly deserves a fine for his actions. But Carlson initiated the contact.
In his postgame remarks, Lou sounded like a rueful dad who's going to have to punish his favorite child: "I'm going to have to have a talk with Carlos", he said, sounding like he'd rather have several teeth pulled without anesthesia.
Replays on the play in question, incidentally, showed Nyjer Morgan's hand on the plate just before Z's tag after a pitch got away from Geovany Soto. Morgan was safe -- and I think Carlson may have given the Cubs a makeup call in the 8th when Soto scored on Andres Blanco's double down the line that made the score 4-2.
All of this took away from a nicely-pitched game by Z (why he was in the game in the 7th inning anyway is open to question, as he had thrown 108 pitches through six), and the Cubs' second win in the last 24 hours, 5-2 over the Pirates, marked by nice play from Reed Johnson in particular. Johnson made an outstanding running catch on a deep fly ball in the top of the 7th by Adam LaRoche, and then broke the tie in the bottom of the 8th with a solo homer, his second dinger this week. Milton Bradley tripled and looked, at last, as if he's finally running at full speed again; he also made a nice running catch in the ninth inning and doubled Freddy Sanchez, who had walked, off first base. Sanchez had nearly rounded third; why he was that far off base is inexplicable, but the Cubs will take it. Kevin Gregg registered his seventh save, but had Bradley not made the catch, it might have been nervous time again; Gregg walked two before striking out Nate McLouth to end it.
Also overshadowed today were the multiple roster moves by the Cubs. Andres Blanco, Jake Fox and Jason Waddell were all added to the roster, as we have discussed earlier today. Blanco started at 2B -- what a difference. He can actually field his position. Fox pinch-hit for Carlos Marmol in the 8th and after looking a bit lost for the first few pitches, he skied a RBI double to the wall in right-center. Incidentally, there has now been a Fox on the Cubs' 25-man roster at various times every year since 2005 (except 2006); Chad in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and Jake in 2007 and 2009. Yet they have never once appeared in the same game. Are we sure they're not the same Fox?
Kidding. But I'm not about this -- tonight is Jake Fox Jersey Day in Des Moines. Maybe they can send them all to Chicago and hand them out tomorrow.
It was chilly -- there were quite a number of people who must have driven in from the western or southern suburbs where it was in the 70's and who were way underdressed for the 55-degree temperature -- but the rain held off and when the sun made a few peeks from behind the gloomy gray overcast, big cheers erupted from the 22,000 or so of the announced 38,314 who actually showed up today. They saw the Cubs right their ship, just in time for the Dodgers to come to town tomorrow. Let's hope Z calms down and avoids suspension.
And grows up a little. (The umpires need to, too.)