Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Big Z Breaks Baseball's Commandment Number Ten

The modern baseball fan may never have heard of baseball's Joe McCarthy, but they know Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs.

Zambrano was the darling of Cubs fans and no wonder, he chalked up eight winning seasons in a row. His 2004 season 16-8; 2005 14-6; 2006 16-7; 2007 18-13 and 2008 16-7 made up an especially impressive run. Like a lot of baseball stars, not to mention dust kicking managers, Zambrano's temper has been on display from time to time. Unfortunately, Zambrano has taken things to an extreme that has him hot water.

After Z had lost control more than a few times right in front of the TV cameras, he went in for some anger management classes last year. Were they effective?

Last Friday, when the Atlanta Braves got the best of Z, he blatantly threw a couple pitches right at Chipper Jones and was summarily thrown out of the game. This was probably not a smart move, but what happened after that took things from bad to worse. According to Cubs manager Mike Quade as reported by the AP:

“I’m really disappointed. His locker is empty. He walked out on 24 guys. I don’t know where he’s gone or what he’s doing. He’s talking about retiring … but I can’t have a guy walking out on 24 guys.’’

The Cubs have placed Zambrano on something called the "disqualified list," which tucks him into a no-play - no play mode for the next 30 days. The team has been struggling this season and in my opinion, Big Z has not made things easier for Cubs management or his teammates. Under his current "disqualified status," he will lose more money in a month than most of us make in a lifetime.

Friday's antics did not sit well with Cubs GM Hendry, who apologized to the Braves for his player's actions on what was deemed a night to honor legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox. Ironically, although Cox is one of the winning-est managers in MLB history, he holds the record for being tossed out of more games than any other manager in history.

It's not unusual for athletes to show red every now and then, but it's rarely useful. There is an old axiom, "A pitcher who has no control, has nothing." In fact McCarthy used this principle as his Commandment Number Ten.

It was Joe McCarthy who penned the baseball Commandments back in 1921--see The 10 Commandments of Baseball,which happens to one of our books at Sporting Chance Press. McCarthy's baseball commandments have quietly made their mark on the game of baseball for 90 years now from T-ball to the MLB although most people are not aware of their origin. Self control is certainly an important quality for athletes and a must for a pitcher. Someone should have sat down with Big Z when he was Little Z and talked long and hard about this.

The Commandments are a simple list of principles that may seem self-evident to those who were coached well in Little League:

1. Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
2. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
3. An outfielder who throws back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.
4. Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.
5. When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E. He who changes his mind may hav to change a good leg for a bad one.
6. Do not alibi on bad hops. Anyone can field the good ones.
7. Always run them out, you can never tell.
8. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
9. Do not find too much fault with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.
10. A pitcher who hasn’t control, hasn’t anything.

I am not sure if anger management is going to help Big Z get past his issues. It might actually be more instructive to have him coach some young kids and see how silly you look when you lose you composure. Even an angry 10-year old pitcher isn't much good to his team. I think it might be better for Z to look externally, maybe he needs to think about other people more and that might help more than self-analysis which is as they say "all about me."

Copyright 2011 Sporting Chance Press

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