Carlos Zambrano is sorry, and he wants the world to know. The statements he made (quoted in that ESPN Chicago article) are pretty much exactly what people are looking for from a guy after an embarrassing episode. The video is more an apology to the fans, which, again, is exactly what the Cubs organization is expecting from Zambrano.
They’re also expecting him to pitch better, so we can only hope there’s some connection between his composure in general and his abilities on the mound. I’ve always doubted that to be true, but I hope I’m wrong. Will writing in his anger journal every time he gets mad really help him locate his cutter?
Hey, maybe it will. No one who watches the Cubs with any interest can deny that emotional investment in this team has its share of physiological effects. Fans get nervous during games, so players undoubtedly do too. The difference in most professional athletes, or any public performer for that matter, is that they can harness the nervous energy as a catalyst, propelling them to even better levels of performance than they would otherwise achieve. That’s why we cheer, isn’t it, to provoke such a response?
Anger isn’t usually so beneficial, but it can be. Vin Scully has said that Jackie Robinson played better when he was angry. His vitriolic reaction to the hatred he faced fueled his performance without causing him to explode. Most human beings don’t respond that way, but some do (my only other example is Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Jump, so I’ll move on). I don’t think anyone suspects Zambrano of being one of those rare exceptions, at least not anymore.
From what Zambrano is saying, much to the pleasure of Jim Hendry and the rest of the Cubs’ front office (and potential trade partners, I suppose), he’s taking his anger management therapy seriously and views it in a positive light. Some people, with Ron Santo as their most vocal leader, think Zambrano’s anger and lack of composure is the only thing stopping him from being an all-world pitcher. If they’re right, the next couple of months should be a lot of fun to watch.