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Today in Cubs history: The time Carlos Zambrano hit a Gatorade dispenser

Big Z did not like Mark Carlson’s call.

Photo by Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

Many of these articles commemorate an obscure part of Cubs history, or something that happened decades ago.

This game and event, you probably remember pretty well, as it happened just eight years ago, May 27, 2009.

The Cubs led the Pirates 2-1 in the top of the seventh. Nyjer Morgan was on third base with one out, and Carlos Zambrano, facing Nate McLouth, uncorked a wild pitch.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

Now, in 2017 that play simply would have gone to the replay-review crew. If you look at the video closely, you can see that plate umpire Mark Carlson made the right call. Morgan’s hand touched the plate just before Zambrano tagged him.

A more colorful description of what happened is in Retrosheet’s boxscore from this game:

pitcher Carlos Zambrano covered the plate on the wild pitch, took the throw from catcher Geovany Soto and tagged the runner; however, HP umpire Mark Carlson ruled that Nyjer Morgan slid under the tag and scored; Zambrano started yelling and gesturing while nose-to-nose with Carlson and was ejected by the umpire; Zambrano made a motion as if to eject Carlson, then threw the ball into left field; as he left the field, Zambrano threw his glove, then attacked a drink dispenser in the dugout with a bat

You can see all that happen in the video above.

Big Z got a six-game suspension for bumping Carlson and did not appeal. The Cubs wound up winning that game 5-2 with a three-run eighth inning.

Personally, I don’t really miss those kinds of things happening at baseball games. You get a close play on the field, there’s no yelling and screaming and umpire-bumping, it simply goes to the review crew and a decision is made. Perhaps you do miss such things and call them “colorful.” I like things better now.

Carlos Zambrano appeared at Wrigley Field earlier this week and threw out a pregame ceremonial pitch. He looked in playing shape. It is sobering to consider that Zambrano, who last threw a big-league pitch in 2012, is nearly three years younger than John Lackey and only about two and a half years older than Jon Lester. If Z had been able to harness his emotions into his pitching instead of outbursts, he might still be on a big-league roster somewhere. It’s a shame, because he had tremendous physical talent. There was a time when I thought he’d be a lifetime Cub and perhaps even become the best pitcher in team history.

Instead, we got more outbursts like this one, including the 2011 incident in which he cleaned out his locker in Atlanta and left the team. That was the last time he pitched for the Cubs. It’s really a shame.