Zambrano Fails to Apologize to Starving Children

When do they get their dinner, Carlos? And when do they get their apology?

I said yesterday that Carlos Zambrano said all the right things in his apology to the fans and his general statement that everything about his dugout tirade was wrong, but that was before I had all the facts. It has since come out that Zambrano has yet to apologize to the Cubs as a congregation. He hasn’t even embroidered all his shirts and jerseys with the scarlet A for Anger as ordered by Pastor Morrissey.

Sure, Zambrano has apologized to players individually, but what about the team as a whole? What about the Wrigley Field ambassadors? What about the children? Never mind the convenient fact that Zambrano has been separated from the Cubs by an average of 1,000 miles since he was suspended. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s apologizing in the absolute wrong order.

The first person he needed to apologize to was obvious, but whether he did that or not is between him and DeRosa. After that, he should have apologized to Derrek Lee. Okay, he did that, too, but only once? Another 99 are in order, and they should all be in public and/or under the supervision of a priest. Next comes his teammates, coaches, agents, and every innocent bystander.

Next he should have apologized to the media, starting with the white guys. Sullivan, Morrisey, Telander, Wittenmyer, Kaplan: these guys feared for their lives when Zambrano’s rage boiled over. No, he didn’t hurt anybody—this time—but he looked like he wanted to. The fact that he made his apology in an interview with Pedro Gomez won’t be lost on them. You could cut the racial tension with a knife, which is exactly what the Chicago sports media is afraid of.

But the most overlooked group on Zambrano’s apology waiting list, with its chronology screwed up beyond even Quentin Tarantino’s comprehension, are the millions of starving children around the world. While they looked on in horror, the biggest, whiniest, most spoiled child of them all went out to dinner with the manager of the opposing team. Zambrano stuffed his petulant face with dinner, completely deaf to the rumbling empty stomachs of those less fortunate than himself.

But himself is all Zambrano thinks about. He’s sorry. He was wrong. He is embarrassed by his actions. He is trying to improve the way he handles his anger. Selfish, racist, diva. This apology was all about him. The families of the victims of the Hindenburg disaster? Never even crossed Zambrano’s mind.

Z, Interrupted

Z angry! Z smash!!!

Carlos Zambrano’s rampage of terror has finally been stopped. After storming through the Cub dugout, terrorizing a camera crew outside of U.S. Cellular Field, and ravaging a Brazilian steakhouse with Ozzie Guillen, Zambrano finally succumbed to Cubs staff armed with tranquilizer cannons and electromagnetically powered titanium restraining belts. It took a few days to gain approval for his ultimate confinement while the ACLU and PETA wrangled to determine which group should be defending his rights.

Finally the dust has settled, freeing Jim Hendry to inform the public about the protective measures in place to minimize the damage Zambrano can inflict upon society. Long story short, we can breathe easy until after the All-Star Break. Big Z won’t be around to hurt any of us for quite some time. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Hendry’s statement, point by reassuring point:

Beginning Wednesday, Carlos will undergo a treatment program . . .

This is where a lot of the mainstream media have begun to water down the severity of the issue, referring to the prescribed course of action as “anger management” or “counseling.” Make no mistake: this is treatment. You don’t often hear people say Carlos Zambrano has an “anger problem.”  The term you hear thrown around almost universally is nut job.

So don’t leave this happy press conference thinking Carlos is going to be attending a few classes, some private sessions, and some group therapy. This is a serious medical issue that will require the utmost in clinical expertise.

. . . with mutually agreed upon doctors from the Players’ Association and Major League Baseball.

Now wait a second, here. Are these doctors selected from the ranks of the Players’ Association and Major League Baseball, or are they selected and agreed upon by those two parties? Doc Halladay is a hell of a pitcher, but he’s not qualified to take on a head case like Big Z. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the MLBPA and MLB will together avail themselves of the best psychiatric minds in the world.

Whatever crack military analysts have been  predicting the movements of Osama bin Laden, pull them off that cold case and put them on Zambrano. We need to know what strain of inhuman pathology has sent him down this path of self-destruction and what we can expect him to try next.

Basically, he will have to follow the treatment for his issues and be evaluated properly . . .

I’m sure the Zambrano family and both of his fans appreciate Hendry glossing over Carlos’s soulless predilection for torture as “his issues,” but the bottom line is that drastic experimental procedures need to be administered swiftly and relentlessly to ensure some semblance of public safety when Zambrano ventures back into society. Godzilla had issues. Zambrano has serious problems.

. . . and if the program is acted on properly in accordance to what the doctors they signify he needs to work on and improve on, and follow their directives, Carlos will not be reinstated any time until after the All-Star break.

Wait . . . what? If the weapons-grade lithium injections and shock treatment is properly executed and Zambrano stays conscious throughout the sensory deprivation and neural reprogramming, Zambrano won’t be reinstated until after the ASB? So what happens if one of those pillars of personal transformation should crumble? Euthanasia? Siberian exile? Trade to the White Sox? I guess we’ll cross that chasm into the eternal abyss when we come to it.

We’ve obviously had a lot of transgressions with Carlos in the past . . .

I hope Jim was just being polite with that first-person plural. If  Hendry, Lou, et al. have had transgressions with Carlos, I’d hate to see what scarlet letters emblazon their breasts. BP, maybe? But since the punishment is being prescribed to just Carlos, I can only assume that Zambrano alone has transgressed while Hendry, Piniella, the Ricketts family, and all of society have been mere victims of (not participators in) his tumultuous binges of iniquity.

. . . so I think we all agreed that it was time to go and get help, then address the apologies later.

Yes, we need to call in the authorities on this one. There’s plenty of time for tear-filled remorse in between sodium pentothal injections. That’s why they let you watch.

It’s an unfortunate situation.

Yes, it was completely a function of luck. The powers of fortune and fate transpired to bring Carlos’s demons to the surface. This “situation” had nothing to do with Hendry and Piniella moving Zambrano to the bullpen (which Hendry had stocked with rookies, pet projects, washed-up veterans, and injuries in waiting) just long enough for him to adjust to the move and then to draw him back into the rotation. The incessant criticism of Zambrano’s better-than-average 2009 (in which the Cub offense behind him scored an average of .0002 runs per month, hence the single-digit win total) wasn’t meant to make Z angry. The repetitive trade rumors leaked by the front office (despite Zambrano’s insistence that he loved Chicago and would never leave) were immaterial to Zambrano’s psychological condition. Oh no, Z has a medical problem brought on by the fickle middle finger of fortune.

. . . and His actions were certainly inappropriate and as I said on Friday, those actions toward his teammates and staff will not be tolerated.

Of course. This organization does not tolerate furious yelling. They just incite it.

That’s why we tried to work to a conclusion as efficiently and as quickly as we could.

Had they the budget to hire a sniper on short notice, the conclusion would have been much quicker and more efficient. But in a world of backloaded contracts and suffocating debt relief, a suspension and a marathon date with the league shrink will have to do.

It’s really pretty amazing how Hendry has managed to make Zambrano’s outburst look like the mad confession of a serial killer. The past few days just gave Hendry’s office time to find the bodies. A lot of people have criticized Hendry, Lou, and Zambrano’s teammates for berating Z so openly, but it’s really genius PR work. The excessive complaints, the drama, the mystery of Zambrano’s whereabouts, and the complete absence of any definitive statement from Carlos himself have all created this grand illusion that Zambrano is criminally insane.

Hendry didn’t have the slightest difficulty getting approval for intensive “treatment” for Zambrano because he made it so clear to the world that Zambrano is a sick, sick man. Lou seemed pretty calm in the dugout when the incident happened. After the game he was cool and collected but, admittedly, embarrassed. By the time evening fell, the shock of it all came crashing down and Lou was suddenly unable to eat.

Jim Hendry was likewise furious. Beside himself . . . with glee. Hendry has been looking to get rid of Zambrano for awhile now. He didn’t want him in the rotation. He couldn’t put him in the bullpen. He couldn’t trade him, release him, or send him down to the minors. What’s left? Thank DeRosa for the restricted list!

But didn’t all this diminish Zambrano’s trade value? Not at all! Don’t you see the evil genius at work? This isn’t a character flaw in Zambrano. This is a medical issue. He’s getting treatment. Zambrano’s temper is about to undergo Tommy John surgery, and the recovery time, apparently, is about three weeks. Whoever gets Zambrano at the end of July won’t be getting a moody, ineffective reliever, they’ll be getting the finest Carlos modern medicine can buy, one with the confidence, sensitivity, and electric fastball that can make him the ace of any staff.

It’s too bad. I liked angry Z. He made me laugh and, unlike almost everyone else on this team, he didn’t make me yawn until I wanted to pass out. I’m not defending what Zambrano did. Truth be told, I don’t even know what Zambrano did. Whatever it was he did or said, and whatever fractured reasoning was behind it, I highly doubt it calls for a lobotomy.

Heated Cub Bromance Boils Over

You’ve heard about his clashes with the fans. His squabbles with the Chicago press are well documented. And, until now, it seemed Milton Bradley stayed aloof from most of his teammates, creating an awkward tension in the Cubs clubhouse and on the field.

According to sources behind the scenes, the shocking untold story bears no resemblance to the image portrayed in the media. Milton Bradley wasn’t just close to his team . . . he got too close. The torrid bromance between Ryan Dempster and Bradley tore the clubhouse in two after a heated dispute over interpretations of the film He’s Just Not That Into You.

Players were forced to take sides after the split, and Dempster’s seniority and popularity earned him the lion’s share of support. Naturally, the breakup was hardest on the little guys.

One diminutive player who refused to be named cited the strained relationship as the reason behind his own struggles. “What those two guys had was special. Since they split, I’ve only had one, two hits. I can’t get my average above the Mendoza line, and I can’t listen to Streisand anymore. It’s just too painful.”

With Bradley suspended for the remainder of the season and almost certainly headed for a trade, it may be too late to recreate the magic. However, the research team at And Counting has obtained an exclusive copy of a tribute video created before the pair split and will post it here as soon as it becomes available. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here it is, the video of star-crossed love and tragic despair:

You Can Schedule a Make-Up Game, But You Can’t Make Them Play

In a display of passive-aggressive nonviolence, the Cubs staged a sit-in at Wrigley Field today.

Said Alfonso Soriano, “We were promised a day off on September 3, and a day off we shall have.”

The Cubs adamantly refused to raise a glove in defense or a bat in anger. Seen pacing placidly in the dugout, Lou Piniella seemed to understand the protest, even if he didn’t agree with the tenets of the players’ beliefs.

“Look, I’m not the Dalai Lama.You gotta talk to the players about that. We’ve seen our fair share of good baseball this year, and we’ve had some bad baseball. That . . . I don’t know what that was, but it wasn’t baseball.”

The White Sox seemed just as confused as anyone. At first, they didn’t realize they were allowed to score while the Cubs weren’t playing. But by the middle innings, a few White Sox leisurely circled the bases, some of them with their wives, children, and pets. Ozzie Guillen was, predictably, the only South Sider who wasn’t left speechless.

“I don’t know what they were doing, but I figure, why not win a game if they’re gonna let you? It was like that scene outta Bad News Bears when the coach’s kid hangs on to the ball and the fat catcher runs around the bases, you know? Hey, we tried to give up some runs just to make it look real, but I don’t think Lou wanted to let that happen. He put Aaron Miles at the plate. I don’t know how to let Aaron Miles score a run. We’re not allowed to put a tee out there and he’s too small to try to hit with a pitch. It’s not my problem. Let the Ricketts family sort that out.”

It is not yet known whether Aaron Miles was in on the civil disobedience or if he was simply doing his best to reach base. As for the rest of the team, they plan to return to their baseball playing duties tomorrow after the team travels to New York to play the Mets.

Calling (out) All Cubs Fans

Milton Bradley has brought this into stark relief, but the problem has been going on as long as I’ve been alive. It’s a sensitive topic, so I’ll keep it short, easy on the sweet.

The following are true, albeit made up:

Cub fans are 85% more likely than other fans to believe they control the outcome of the game.

Cub fans are 77% more likely than other fans to think that a players looks significantly influence their on-field play.

Cub fans are three times as likely as Reds fans to blame a loss on a post-game press conference.

98% of Cubs fans have credited “supernatural forces” with the result of at least one entire Cubs season; of those, 89% believe they can control the aforementioned supernatural forces; 17% of Cub fans think those numbers are a little low.

86% of Cub fans are annoyed at baseball record keepers for not statistically tracking “clubhouse vibe.”

2% of Cub fans are billy goats.

.01% of Cub fans were alive the last time they won a World Series.

100% of Cub fans who just read that winced.

TUTR Time: Halladay on His Way to Cubs?

Roy Halladay is a stud. The Cubs now need pitching help after Ryan Dempster broke his big toe celebrating a Cubs victory (yes, I am going to make a thrill of victory, agony of de-feet joke, albeit parenthetical). The Toronto Blue Jays are shopping Roy Halladay.

Naturally, this has sent the wheels into motion here in the home offices of TUTR (Totally Unrealistic Trade Rumors). Here’s what my sources have uncovered:
Jim Hendry and J. P. Ricciardi are close to a deal that would bring Roy Halladay to the Friendly Confines. The deal wouldn’t be without its cost to the Cubs.
People close to the negotiations say the Cubs may be willing to part with utility infielder Aaron Miles and cash considerations. Miles’s inability to recover from a seemingly minor injury and proven lack of big-league power make him Major League Baseball’s last rock-solid example of a player who is completely beyond the realm of reckless PED speculation. The Cubs, nay, the country, are afraid to lose their sole untainted insurance policy.
I say, let’s take that chance.

Bradley Lashes Out at Baseballs

Just days after accusing umpires of retaliating against him for imperceptible umpire bumping, Milton Bradley called attention to yet another conspiracy against his oft misunderstood self: the baseballs are out to get him. 

Bradley fouled a pitch off of the bottom of his foot in Monday’s 10-8 loss to Pittsburgh, and he later told reporters he expects more of the same.
“It was definitely intentional. Ever since I crushed that homer off Peavy, I’ve noticed a lot of foul balls trying to get a piece of me,” Bradley told reporters, his right foot wrapped heavily in ice. “And that fly ball that got away from me when I dove for it in the 7th? I’m pretty sure it laughed at me.”
The ball in question, that Bradley swears “intentionally hopped out” of his glove, allowed the first of three Pittsburgh runs to score in the 7th as Neal Cotts continued to pitch, something that seriously must be stopped if the Cubs are to win. Bradley just wishes the baseballs would stop hating on him.
“It’s definitely one of those things where they’re like, ‘Oh, you hit my friend? Then I’m gonna hit you, see how you like it.’ Well, I don’t like it,” Bradley snapped before shrugging and adding, “But what are you gonna tell ’em? They’re baseballs. Whatever.”
The much maligned right fielder, acquired by the Cubs as a free agent for a reported $30 million over the next three seasons, may use his baseball vendetta to actually earn his salary; he homered in his very next at-bat. But the baseballs don’t understand his rush to judgment.
MLB baseballs’ director of public relations Bobby Spalding called Bradley’s theory “ridiculous.” 
“If there’s anybody we don’t have a grudge against, it’s Milton Bradley,” Mr. Spalding posted on the organization’s blog, which speaks out in defense of battered and mishandled balls across the league. “He’s treated us with nothing but the utmost tenderness and caution for most of the year. Maybe two, three of our members at most have been hit hard by Milton. If anything, he’s our favorite hitter; when he’s batting, we know we can breathe easy.”
Meanwhile, Cub fans across the world are desperately hoping the issue doesn’t get resolved and that Bradley has finally put an end to his fair and ethical treatment of baseballs.