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Carlos Zambrano is the only Cub not allowed to have a meltdown

Feb 19, 2010, 8:28 AM EDT

The Chicago Tribune’s Dan McNeil is no fan of Carlos Zambrano. After railing against his contract and going on about how he’s no Ted Lilly, McNeil predicts a Big-Z meltdown:

Put me down for the first week in May for not-so-Big Z’s first
implosion. Not sure if it will be getting tossed for undressing an
umpire or pulling up lame trying to stretch a double, but an eruption
is a certainty. Until the man-child proves he’s as right between the
ears as he is in the hips, I’m betting against the Cubs getting this
cat’s potential actualized.

I think the richest thing about this is how he uses Ted Lilly of all people to demonstrate just how awful Carlos Zambrano is, because Lilly is no stranger to drama himself.

No wait, that’s not the richest thing. The richest thing is that just last summer McNeil wrote that the Cubs’ biggest problem was that Lou Piniella was acting all calm and professional instead of being a combative jackass:

Unearthing bases. Kicking dirt. Spitting. Scratching.
Fighting one of his own players, as he did in Cincinnati with the
behemoth-sized Rob Dibble.

None of those outlandish behaviors will solve the Cubs’ most urgent
problems, but when a historically fiery manager ceases to breathe fire,
then you have a brand new problem to tack onto the list: resignation.

To sum up: you can get away with acting like a jerk if you’re Ted Lilly. You can not only get away with being a jerk but you damn well better be a jerk if you’re Lou Piniella. But Lord help you do those things and your name is Carlos Zambrano.

  1. Phil - Feb 19, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    …Ted Lilly… Lou Piniella…Carlos Zambrano.
    One of these things is not like the other. One of these things is not the same.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Feb 19, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    I don’t know McNeil’s writing well enough to actually make an accusation, but yeah, that had occurred to me.

  3. berselius - Feb 19, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    McNeil is a total hack even when compared to the rest of the Chicago media, and that’s saying something.

  4. Charles Gates - Feb 19, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    Piniella plays with passion while Zambrano is hot-headed…???

  5. George - Feb 19, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Isn’t Piniella Latino? (If that’s what you were getting at)

  6. Phil - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    Lou is of Latino heritage, yes, but he was born in Tampa. Big Z was born in Venezuela (and has a better sun tan, if you catch my drift).

  7. Joey B - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    “Not sure if it will be getting tossed for undressing an umpire or pulling up lame trying to stretch a double, but an eruption is a certainty.”
    Don’t know enough about Z to comment, but does sound like those two statements are incredibly inconsistent. Getting mad at an ump could be either justified or not. Hurting yourself hustling to 2nd might be a reflection of lack of conditioning, or an intense desire to win. I have no idea how one relates to the other.

  8. Ross - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Make no mistake about it, Zambrano is a head case. He also has a very high drive to win. His problems come when he either makes a mistake or the umpire starts making questionable ball/strike calls. Z doesn’t react well to adversity. Usually it’s the water coolers that take the biggest beating. And Michael Barrett.

  9. willmose - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    Not really sticking up for McNeil but he is writing about the Cubs. How can anything make sense when you are writing about the Cubs? When you see the world through Cub-colored glasses God only knows what you see.

  10. Jonny5 - Feb 19, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    Ok, well it’s clearly because it’s not Lilly’s fault his temper flared, unlike Zambrano. You see Lilly was attacked, by a witch doctor who shrunk his head. Now he suffers from the same affliction you’d see in a Doberman pincher as his shrinking skull presses in on his cerebral cortex. This causes heightened aggressive behavior. I heard lilly not only did not hit his manager in the nose, but he actually bit it…. We all need to feel sorry for Lilly as his affliction is a disability, where as the big Z is just a jerk. That poor gatorade dispenser…….

  11. nelson - Feb 19, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    dan mcneil is a hot-headed jerk with a long history of feuding with co-workers, usually resulting in suspension. he’s a radio host first, a wannabe jay mariotti preaching from the pulpit of fire. take the plank out of your own eye before removing a speck of dust from another’s…

  12. BGOOD - Feb 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    There are fans that have issues with C.Z. but what some are unable to recognize is his passion to win and his critical nature of his own performance; he’s a gamer. This may be because there are fans that have never participated in athletics and have never had the competitive fire that comes with the rush or they are just too overwhelmed with stats and figures. For the mistakes all MLB pichers make, they need to be backed up with gloves, bats and base running – we must not forget that fact. We have seen many athletes come through Chicago and never win the big game or series, then they go to a team that understands the premise of confidence and trust in eachother and the support that thrives from that confidence and trust takes them to another level. Its time the Cubs get the confidence and begin to trust themselves and every guy on the bench to pull their weight and perform. GO CUBS!

  13. Jaime - Feb 19, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    And don’t forget Lilly slamming his glove down on the mound like a 10-year-old after giving up a homerun in the playoffs a few years back!

  14. roy - Feb 19, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    It’s important to note that McNeil is an unabashed White Sox fan that invests much of his talk show time trashing the Cubs.

  15. Seacrest - Feb 19, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    So McNeil hates white people since Big Z and Pinella are Latino??
    Got it Craig.

  16. Monica - Feb 20, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Hello, this is my first time visiting your site and I wanted to let you knwo I feel your writing is very refreshing. I can appreciate your honesty and apparent experiences that is apparent in your post. Thanks for posting such informative and enlighting information.

  17. BigFansMember - Feb 20, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    I love this national wiseguy trying to comment on local items like he knows what the hell he is talking about – keep it.
    Don’t you have some Yankee/Red Sox news to report on?

  18. Matt - Feb 22, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    Wow. Craig you are clueless man. Are you really using that ONE outburst by Lilly and comparing that to Zambrano’s myriad of issues? That is laughable and frankly shows that you simply don’t follow this team. And then you have the NERVE to insinuate that this is racial. That’s pathetic and a potshot.
    What you used w/ Lilly, a one-time outburst, is a regularity w/ Zambrano.
    And willmose: thanks for showing SUPREME ignorance. McNeil is a White Sox fan and doesn’t even like the Cubs. He, unlike most others, actually looked at things objectively in this case.
    Signed,
    Cub fan

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