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Monday, August 15, 2011

Walk Away, Carlos

I don't write much about the Cubs anymore. For one, this is a football blog and, while I wrote some Cubs stuff a few years ago, there are many people out there who do that job better and frankly, I just don't care enough anymore. I feel compelled to give my 2 cents on Carlos Zambrano, though, so bear with me.

I'm a Cubs fan because of my grandfather. My dad's a Cubs fan as well, but he had to spend all of his time when I was a kid working his ass off during the day and, as the father of three snot-nosed brats, he never really had much control over the television remote when he came home. So I watched the Cubs at Grandpa's house. Grandpa was long-suffering and he lived and died with his team. I admired that. I embody that to an extent, except for the last few years the Cubs have actually managed to break me. I don't watch anymore, and that bugs me. I can't enjoy them because they aren't enjoyable and they sure as hell don't seem interested in getting there any time soon. Jim Hendry's going to stay. The Ricketts just think it's swell to own a goddamn baseball team, even if the product on the field is a total abortion. So I can't just stomach it like my Grandpa could. That's fine. I'm not my Grandpa. He also lived through the Great Depression and spent a year freezing in a foxhole in the frozen hell of North Korea. I couldn't do that either.

I don't think Carlos Zambrano is built much like my grandfather, either. For what it's worth, I think people that are trying to cast Zambrano as a selfish guy who excludes himself from blame when he's ranting about playing for a shitty team are wrong. Every one of Zambrano's outbursts has been directed at himself and they generally only involved his teammate's when they've chosen to get too close to the hurricane. Sure, I get why he's easy to dislike. He's really a raving lunatic and he's immature and, despite my constant argument that Jay Cutler's personality has no impact on the field, Carlos's rage does since it clearly affects his control and allows bad games to snowball on him. He needed to handle things better, but he's not built that way. He's pissed that the team sucks. He's pissed that he sucks. I don't think Carlos sees the point of playing shitty baseball for a shitty baseball team. I've heard meatball fans for years bitching about how Aramis Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano look like they're happy just to cash a check for underachieving, yet they're now ripping into Zambrano for deciding that it just isn't worth it anymore.

I don't think what Zambrano did was right, but I'm also tired of society constantly policing the attitudes of players. How many star athletes do we get in every generation who perfectly embody all of the proper standards of performance and intangibles and behavior that we set for them? Maybe a handful? Hell, most of the ones we think "do it the right way" collapse into a heap of lies at some point like Tiger Woods or Brett Favre or Alex Rodriguez. I'm done with that. If Carlos thinks this shit sucks and he wants to walk away, I hope he does it and I hope he doesn't let anyone talk him out of it. I think this shit sucks, too. I've spent most of the last two summers not watching the Cubs and the worst part is that I don't even miss them. They've killed the part of me that just liked watching baseball because I've long since become accustomed to the idea that they care a hell of a lot less about putting a winning product on the field than I do, and the fact that they're trashing Carlos Zambrano while endorsing the man who not only signed Carlos to a massive contract but also built the shitty team around him says all I need to know. I really have a hard time caring about the Chicago Cubs these days, and they're responsible for it. I'm not surprised they've driven away Carlos Zambrano, too.

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