Why Big Z is Right

Cubs starter calls Cubs “embarrassing”

Every one has been thinking it. It was just time for someone to say it.

It’s no secret the Cubs are struggling. They've lost seven in a row after losing to the Reds Monday night in Cincinnati. They are 11 games back of the National League Central Division leading Cardinals, and are second to last in the majors in win total. You can thank the Minnesota Twins for keeping the Cubs one spot above the Major League basement.

With lots of young talent, there was hope that this year’s team would be able to contend in the National League Central. But through 57 games, it is fitting to describe the 2011 Cubs as “embarrassing.”

Carlos Zambrano was not afraid to say that “e” word Sunday after the Cubs dropped their sixth straight game, and second in a row in walk-off fashion.

“We should know better than this,” said Zambrano. “We play like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team and the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassed -- that’s the word for this team.”

Big Z pitched seven strong innings Sunday against St. Louis, scattering five hits and allowing only one earned run. The Cubs looked like they were going to salvage one win in the otherwise disappointing series. However, it all came apart in the ninth when usually reliable closer Carlos Marmol allowed the Cardinals to tie the game off of a double by former Cub Ryan Theriot.

Zambrano is known for many things, including his deadly two-seam fastball and his hitting ability, but he is most well known for his hot temper that rises up once or twice every season. We have seen everything from Zambrano; kicking Gatorade coolers, punching teammates, and throwing every thing he can find in the dugout. But on Sunday he called out his teammates, including Marmol, who blew a save for the second Zambrano start in a row.

And boy, is it about time.

Someone needed to call the Cubs out. There is only so much blame to put on the managers and coaches. At some point, the blame has to go out to the players on the field. And in this case, the players need to perform.

Blaming Marmol for the Cubs struggles was not the right choice for Zambrano. Marmol is not the reason the Cubs are having a sub-par year. But speaking out about how the Cubs are “embarrassing” was the right thing to do. Catcher Koyie Hill came out after the comments were made and said, “I think he’s obviously frustrated. At some point you get tired of just saying ‘you have to play hard and keep playing hard.’ Eventually you just say something else.”

The Cubs need some sort of spark to salvage their season. Let’s hope that this Zambrano outrage turns out to be that spark that the Cubs need. If it’s not, you can simply chalk this one up as another disappointing season for the North Siders.

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