Big Z Cubs Exchange

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By David K. & Quentin

Of all the nights to fall asleep on the couch for two hours…I blame a long Saturday night for causing me to take a two-hour nap and miss one of the most exciting Cub moments of my life.  Carlos Zambrano, who had been struggling for the last month, coming off a “tired arm” which forced him to miss his last start, threw the first no-hitter by a Cubs hurler in 36 years.  And I was zonked out; oblivious to it all.  Q, you were awake to watch the final outs live while I slept through the drama, waking up to 11 text messages about the momentous occasion.  Half of me feels that I would have been a wreck if I were watching it live, while the other half feels somewhat relieved that I didn’t have to deal with the stress.  What were you feeling as you watched Big Z make history? And is it me, or was this a completely unexpected happening due to Zambrano’s recent struggles; and the fact that the no-no capped off a bizarre weekend for the Cubs which saw their three-game series moved to Milwaukee’s Miller Park because of Hurricane Ike?

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Watching Zambrano always leaves me feeling uneasy and I can safely say that’s b/c the dude is just insane. You have absolutely no idea what he might do and it always kind of feels like you’re teetering on the edge of oblivion. Whether he’s on or if he’s throwing poorly, you still never know what might set him off. The thing I’ll remember most about the end of that game last night wasn’t the crowd or the fact that my wife went to bed while there were 2 strikes on Erstad. (and it was her birthday!)

It was the fact that after it was over, Carlos never cracked a grin. He took a knee, gave props to God, and as his teammates mobbed him and commenced with The Bounce-ing, he was stuck in the middle, head down, looking angry. I was afraid the pile might be broken up by Zambrano angrily shoving people away. His interview with Len and Bob was typically awkward and he understandably seemed in shock. The revelation that Milt Pappas has been telling him every spring, “You’re going to be the next Cub to throw a no-hitter” was pretty cool to hear, but more than anything I just felt as nervous as I do every time they talk with him. I never even got goosebumps which is just amazing since I got goosebumps seeing Jay Cutler’s hair for the first time earlier that day. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear about him going back into the clubhouse and punching a few walls (with his left-hand of course b/c he knows that much at least).
In the past 6 months, you’ve now slept through the Favre retirement and the Zambrano no-hitter. Do you think you might need to attach a fire alarm to your phone or something?

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Considering my usual sleep time is between 4 a.m.-noon that may not be a terrible idea.  As a Cubs fan, I feel like the no-hitter adds a much needed feeling of rejuvenation to the ball club.  Since the calendar turned to September, Chicago certainly hasn’t looked like the team to beat in October.  Add this to Rich Harden’s solid return from being skipped in the rotation and my fading beliefs that this could be THE season are invigorated.  I still am a bit concerned Los threw 110 pitches in his very first start after being diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and rotator cuff tendonitis.

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I spent the weekend bitching about Drayton McLane and what I thought was an ill-placed attempt to get these games played in Houston. I understand why he’d want these hugely-important games played in front of the home crowd, but I don’t understand baseball’s willingness to concede, try to wait it out, and then throw off everyone’s schedules for the rest of the season. All indications were that Ike was going to be a monster and it’s not like it snuck up on anyone. So after it hits and the city of Houston is starting recovery efforts, they’re going to stage a double-header? Is the home crowd really going to care that much at that point? I know sports are escapism, but that’s a bit much. The fact that the games were eventually moved to Milwaukee doesn’t help either, since it just gives fodder to the “that’s basically a home game for the Cubs!” argument, which is probably emanating most loudly from Milwaukee itself (looks like they need to be more worried about the Phils at this point though!!!). It was a weird week but in the end, that 2 day break followed by a no-hitter has me almost forgetting how rough things had been before last night. Not to mention it gave the Brewers time to continue their slide. I couldn’t believe it when Len said that with the win, the Cubs would move to 7.5 up in the division. It’s certainly foolhardy to think everything is now a-ok with this team though: I’d certainly like to see them build up a little momentum over the coming weeks. Here’s some little-known trivia for you: Milt Pappas’ no-hitter actually happened AFTER Derrek Lee’s last homerun.

It has become superstition that when a pitcher comes in from the field during a no-hit bid, nobody talks to him or even goes near him while he’s sitting on the bench.   Could you imagine being in the Cubs dug-out during the final few innings of Zambrano’s masterpiece?  I wouldn’t even think about talking to Big Z, sitting within 50 feet of him, look him in the eyes, or even mention his name to someone else for fear that I would have a big orange Gatorade jug chucked at me.  It is also a superstition that fans don’t talk about the no-hitter or call anyone during it, but if a Cubs pitcher is ever in the midst of a potential no-no, can you please call me to make sure I’m awake?  You don’t have to mention what’s going on, but I’ll know something is weird and immediately check to see what is going on with the Cubbies.  Maybe we can come up with a code word or phrase…

I actually have the perfect solution to this predicament and I’ve been using with some other buddies for the past couple seasons. When such an event is taking place, someone sends a text message to the others with a comment along the lines of “The Postgame show is still scheduled!!!” Yeah, it’s a nod to Hawk Harrelson, but it’s also effective, free of jinx, and truly exciting when it happens. I got that text last night and saw the game from the last out of the eighth on. We’ve used it a number of times and it’s now allowed me to catch the end of 2 no-no’s, the other being Mark Buehrle’s for the White Sox. I will add you to the No-Hitter Awareness Phone Tree.

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I haven’t been part of a phone tree since my days in Little League, so I am honored to be part of the No-Hitter Awareness Phone Tree.  Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s coincidence; telling the two apart is always anyone’s guess.  But the day Los throws a no-hitter and the north-siders extend their NL Central lead to 7.5 games, the Brewers get swept by the Phillies and see their Wild Card lead disappear faster than a cheeseburger laid out in front of CC Sabathia or a veggie burger put in Prince Fielder’s peripheral vision.  Is it me, or won’t the Cubs be better off with Milwaukee missing the post-season?  Don’t you want to see the Crew fade so the possibility of facing Sabathia and Ben Sheets in back-to-back games, possibly four times in a potential NLCS never happens?

Anyone who tells you they’d rather play the Brewers than the Mets/Phillies/Dodgers is delusional. And for as frightening as this recent slide has been as a Cubs fan, wouldn’t it have to be about 10 times worse for the Brewers? A week ago, I kept reading “It really doesn’t matter for either the Cubs or Brewers, they’re both making the postseason.” Not only have the Brewers refused to walk through a door that the Cubs were holding open the last 2-plus weeks, they actually boarded up that door, built a second door and proceeded to hold that door open for the Phillies and Astros. Until July, I still saw the Brewers as a cute little underdog. They were somewhat scary, no doubt, but also a little harmless based on their lack of history against the Cubs. I felt no malice, but after attending an Astros-Brewers game up at Miller Park and seeing the multitude of “Cubs Suck” paraphernalia, I’m fully ready for them to lose in the most painful way possible. Given the fact that I’ve never had any ill will towards the Brewers, it was jarring to see massive Cubs Suck flags, the oh-so-classy Calvin pissing on a Cubs hat t-shirts and other such souvenirs. As Cub fans, we have our bitter rivals in St Louis. I don’t put much stock in the White Sox “rivalry;” same goes for the Crew. But as the new kids on the block in the Central race (not to mention the usual anti-Illinois mentality up there), it’s only fitting that they’d build this one up. It just struck me as particularly funny b/c it was so unexpected. It even forced me to cheer for Hunter Pence, which is something I might never get over.

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Comments

  1. Magic # down to 6.

  2. I wore my Sox gear to the Cubs game tonight! You can feel a playoff buzz in the city now. And it also makes me think “Hey Brewers, thanks for coming!”

  3. Cano's Cards says

    Zambrano’s rookie card just went up a dollar in the latest Beckett

  4. 8 ER in 1.2 IP… i’m officially back to being worried about Big Z

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