Friday, August 19, 2011

Red Whines: Pain Passes, Quitting is Forever

I thought there was no crying in baseball.

There always comes a time when a certain someone hits a rough patch in their life. Acknowledging that you have hit this "rough patch" is half the battle in something like this. (G-I-Joooooooooooe) However, there are those times when people are in denial of their struggles and then just give up because they are so depressed and ignorant toward a positive perception of streaks and slumps.

In a case like this, you must do either one of these choices: seek therapy, or have someone beat the crap out of you without any mercy because of the horrible decision they have made.

 The main reason why I'm writing about this is because last week, Carlos Zambrano [formerly] of the Chicago Cubs was ejected from a game against Atlanta after trying to hit Chipper Jones out of frustration for giving up a five home runs in an inning. After he went into the clubhouse, he threw a hissy fit, packed up, and told the trainers and people around the clubhouse that he quit and was leaving. Because of his outburst, the Cubs placed him on the disqualified list, which means that he will be suspended for 30 days without pay.

Now I've heard of people having slumps and giving up on themselves. This is different. It's either clear that he's in denial of having an anger problem or he's hitting a serious mental wall and just doesn't want to deal with any problems that he may possess. Honestly, there were a lot of baseball players that had a lot of mental problems while playing baseball and refused to quit. They might have taken time off, but they got better and returning to the grind made all the difference. Players such as Reds first baseman Joey Votto battled depression and anxiety issues during the 2009 season. Last year, he was voted National League MVP. Another baseball great was outfielder Jimmy Piersall; he had battled bipolar disorder through a decent amount of his career but retired with a .272 batting average. Although there were many personal issues between the two of these guys, "quit" wasn't in their vocabulary.
[Side Note: Piersall's book Fear Strikes Out is on my reading wishlist. Apparently the movie bended facts and stuff. Sorry, Anthony Perkins.]

A lot of people may be aware of the problems that Big Z may have been a part of in the past. Because of past performances, he has lost his position as a starting pitcher, therefore leading to a lot of meltdowns on the field and in the dugout. Usually when it comes to animated anger you can see from the television, you automatically know that something is up. At least I do. Don't they administer stuff like lithium to people like him? Despite the fact that guys can show a lot of passion toward the game especially when something doesn't go their way, you can only go so far with your outrages and meltdown sessions on the field or in the dugout. Does anybody remember outfielder Milton Bradley? He pretty much had the same problems as well. In playing for the majors for about ten years, he didn't stay with one team for very long. After outbursts against players, fans, and even broadcasters and interviewers, he's at home as a free agent. Although he wasn't exactly a "quitter" per se, his negative attitude certainly didn't get him anywhere.

A major concern for me is, "Why are the Cubs going through this crap when they can just release him or just put him away for the season?" Because the Cubs organization has been trudging through all of this stuff about him for almost two years now, it might be best for the organization or for Zambrano to use the axe. If they can do it now, it would give both ends a new start and some time to regroup. A lot of sources are suggesting the option to reduce his penalty, which I disagree with. These 30 days should be a rebuilding time for Big Z, and cutting off that time would be absolutely ridiculous and might not be enough time for him to burn off some steam. Heck, he could even go through therapy at that time if he so chooses.

If the Cubs do release him after the 30 days or buy out his contract at the end of the regular season, the last thing I would want to see is Carlos retiring altogether. Do you know that saying that "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade?" A lot of people still stay in the business without flipping out and quitting altogether. Does anybody remember Rick Ankiel of the Washington Nationals as a pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals? I kind of don't, but follow me here. Apparently he was a good hitting pitcher. After injury and inability to regain pitch control, he almost quit. However, he just moved back about 200 feet or so to center field. Career saved.

In Zambrano's case, he is also a very good hitting pitcher--not to mention a switch-hitting pitcher. Why can't he just move to another position? When there's an extra-inning game and pitchers have to play the field, they're normally placed in the outfield because of their ability to have a strong, accurate (and did I mention fast?) delivery toward any base. Also, being released by the Cubs organization could really be the thing he needs to get back on his feet and have a more positive attitude toward himself and other people.
I think it's time to wake up and smell the coffee, dude. Find yourself something to fall back on if you'd like to remain a "Cub for life" or want to keep your career, Carlos.