Spring has finally sprung. On April 16th in the year of our Lord 2019, it was announced that Carlos Zambrano was returning to the city of Chicago to don the red and blue once more in pursuit of dominance at 66 feet. Sure, it’s the light blue and red of the Chicago Dogs, but I can’t think of a more unexpectedly awesome happenstance. I, for one, cannot wait to see what he’s still got in the tank, and who knows, maybe he’ll find his way back to the show. I wouldn’t bet against him, he’s basically ‘Joliet’ Jake Blues in a baseball uniform. In anticipation of his return to the diamond, I’m drawn back to my favorite Big Z memories.
Neutral Site No-Hitter (September 14, 2008 vs. Houston Astros)
Compliments of Hurricane Ike in 2008, some games scheduled in Houston against the Cubs had to be moved to a neutral site. Insert Wrigley North, and El Toro proceeds to throw a no-hitter, at the time the only occurrence in MLB history. How rare is that you ask? By my calculations roughly 1/865,000. Also, if the way the 2018 regular season ended has your Brew Crew buddies still riding you, there’s this. Carlos Zambrano has thrown more no-hitters at Milwaukee’s home park than the organization has (1 to 0).
Bring Out the Bats, But Hide the Water Cooler (May 27, 2009 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates)
After a call at the plate didn’t go his way, The Bull made his opinion known. The ump just wasn’t having it and decided it was time for a shower to cool off. Carlos signaled for the ump to do the same thing but for whatever reason, that ejection didn’t stick. Presumably upset he wouldn’t get any more AB’s on this day, he pulled out his toothpick and took some BP on the Gatorade dispenser. Not my favorite thing to happen in a baseball game for sure, but to remember Z without recalling his passion and how far it could take him would be a disservice.
Very First Homerun [Almost] (July 25, 2003 vs. Houston Astros)
Carlos Zambrano’s mystique was driven a lot by his skills with a bat in his hands. His pitching was consistently good to great (better than you remember it was for sure), but his bat was always an X-factor. My intention was to go back to his very first career tater (5/23/03 vs. Colorado Rockies), but when I arrived at his career page I realized that his second swat scored Paul Bako. I hold a very strong belief that when the options are “with Paul Bako” or “without Paul Bako,” it’s a no-brainer. For example; My car was stolen. ‘Ok, that sucks.’ My car was stolen, by Paul Bako. ‘God, I hope I left enough gas in there.’ As I now look it, this home run is a far better choice anyway. His meatball came in the top of the seventh inning versus Houston starter Wade Miley. There were two outs, the count was 0-2 and the Cubs trailed 3-1 at the time. The man had ice water pumping through his veins 'cuz that is clutch (Good thing. As we saw above he doesn’t leave ice water many other places). He tied it up allowing Moises Alou to add a two-run shot of his own in the 8th, clearing a path for Z to pass off the ball to Joe Borowski to close out the 5-3 comeback win. I needed three changes of clothes while reading this box score
Here’s to a return to glory for a legitimate Chicago Cub great!
All stats and dates referenced are courtesy baseball-reference.com
Featured Photo: USA Today