Ahead of the Curve
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ESPN aired the Babe Ruth Sports Century episode earlier this week.  It got me thinking of Carlos Zambrano's recent tirade in the Cub dugout.

 

It seems by 1925 Yankee Manager Miller Huggins' patience had worn thin with the Bambino's shenanigans.  The Babe's tardy arrival to batting practice prompted his suspension by Huggins.  Colonel Ruppert backed-up his manager, Ruth apologized to the organization and then made his best career decision: he became a team-player.

Yes, it was a different era.  No player, not even Ruth, could triumph over a determined owner and his reserve clause.  Huggins could afford to break a selfish player.

Cub Manager Lou Pinella has a tougher job.  In today's MLB a manager who challenges a star player can find himself out on the street.  Corporate ownership doesn't like to take risks. 

But what has Pinella got to lose?  He has his rings and must have 20 million in the bank.  Maybe that's the problem: he's not hungry enough.

Zambrano was crowned staff ace long ago.  While he's been the Cub's winningest pitcher the past five years he's unwilling to take on the leadership role.  Add to that his injuries and tiresome rage routine and Zambrano looks more and more like a liability. 

Every time a hot-head throws a temper tantrum in that stadium they dis-respect every player or coach who ever worked at Wrigley - Weegman: Joe Tinker; Rogers Hornsby; Lou Gehrig; Jackie Robinson; Ernie Banks; Ryno; Ruth hit his "called-shot" at Wrigley!

Most just laugh it off.  In Pinella's post-game he chuckled and said "I guess I need to talk to him (Carlos)."  Cute.  Even tough-guy Tim McCarver and his partner Buck on FOX Saturday thought Zambrano's violent hissy-fit was a hoot.  No criticism.

It's time for Pinella to take a risk and read the riot act to bad-behaving players (including Milton Bradley).  I'm not talking about throwing his own hissy-fit with the umpires to fire-up the team.  I'm talking about face-to-face confrontation with confused players.

If the disruptive behavior continues, ditch Zambrano but keep the Gatorade machine.  Let it become a rallying-point for the Cubs and a reminder: ADULTS ONLY IN DUGOUT.

If Pinella takes the appropriate action his players will say to him the same thing Miller Huggins' players no doubt said to him in 1925: "What the hell took you so long!"

Steven Keys    

 

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