Oil-disaster-sponsored trophy aside, the pulse of the crosstown series between the White Sox and Cubs weakened considerably last year. Flatlining play by both clubs left tickets unsold, and games off the national broadcast calendar.
I always anticipated Zambrano starts because Big Z was responsible for two of my favorite moments of the crosstown series. Well, more accurately, it was one moment that he repeated twice -- both times, he degenerated into a 270-pound baby, leaving his teammates to answer the questions.
Unfortunately, MLB.com highlights only go so far, but we'll cope with some embedded video below the jump.
For instance, on June 28, 2009, we only see Zambrano screwing up a pitchout that would've caught Chris Getz at home on a busted suicide squeeze:
But we don't get to see what happened afterwards, which is what really made it special:
- Zambrano reacted by drilling innocent bystander Dewayne Wise.
- He then made a billion moves to first in an attempt to pick off Wise, as if he were desperately trying to erase his mistake.
- Wise stole second on him, anyway.
Zambrano's day ended after he walked the next batter (Scott Podsednik), and he gave thanks to God while leaving the mound.
The next year, this happened:
Although that tantrum drew national attention and embarrassed the Cubs to a great extent, I'm a much bigger fan of the first one. It was amazing to watch Zambrano basically reroute the entire game, with 40,000 fans on hand and a dozen guys standing on the field around him, in order to work through some personal issues under the guise of "pitching." It possessed a subtlety that abject insanity too often lacks.
Zambrano kept himself and the Sox in check last year, which was one of many ways the 2011 disappointed, but I would have eagerly awaited his next turn. Alas, with Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez gone from the North Side, and Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle off the White Sox, the battle for the BP Crosstown Cup is going to have a decidedly different feel. At this point, A.J. Pierzynski is going to have to punch himself.
(Also, it's going to be a weird summer without at least one "SHOULD JAKE PEAVY BE TRADED FOR CARLOS ZAMBRANO BECAUSE OZZIE AND BECAUSE CHICAGO HAS TWO TEAMS AND I DON'T WANT TO CONSIDER 28 OTHER TEAMS THAT IS WAY TOO MANY TEAMS AND IT'S TOO HOT AND I'M BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORED" story.)
By the way, Ken Rosenthal got in a surprisingly strong shot at Guillen when writing about his reaction to the Zambrano trade:
Guillen is at or near the top of my "Managers on the Hot Seat" column every spring. Last season I dropped him to No. 2, just behind the Athletics’ Bob Geren, just ahead of the Marlins’ Edwin Rodriguez.
Pretty fortuitous, if I do say so myself, but Ozzie immediately began squawking on Twitter, saying he would take my job, etc. ... To quote LoMo, I literally had no idea what the dude was talking about.
I reminded Ozzie on Twitter that when he worked for FOX during the 2010 postseason, he pledged to wear a bow tie in a heartwarming display of network solidarity — and never did anything of the sort.
Ozzie responded that he would wear a bow tie the following postseason, at which point I reminded him that his goal should be to manage in the postseason, not broadcast in it.
And you wonder why Oz no longer is managing the White Sox.