Carlos Zambrano Meltdown: From the Chosen One to the Dark Side

Steve PopowskiCorrespondent IAugust 16, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 12:  Pitcher Carlos Zambrano #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Being the sci-fi dork that I am, for some reason when I think about Carlos Zambrano, I hear Ewan McGregor's voice in my head say, "You were the Chosen One! You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness," as he watches a young Anakin Skywalker melt into what will be Darth Vader in the third installment (or sixth) of the Star Wars epic.

Is that not what Carlos Zambrano was supposed to be? The savior? The one who would lead the Cubs to their first World Series title in a hundred years? Well, unfortunately for Cubs fans, Zambrano's career parallels the fall of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side.

Looking at his wins and losses prior to 2007, Zambrano was 64-42 with a 3.29 ERA. Prior to the 2007 season, he declared he would lead the Cubs to the World Series before starting the year 0-6 with a 8.00-plus ERA.

However, the dark side took over Zambrano in the form of a five-year, $91 million contract given to him by the emperor, Jim Hendry. (OK, that's kind of mean, but Hendry does give huge contracts to players who typically underperform after receiving them.)

After signing his contract, Zambrano has gone 61-39 but as an ERA of 3.97. Though his win-loss record is near where it was prior to signing the large contract, the 3.97 ERA is not anywhere near where it should be for one of the game's "elite" pitchers.

Aside from his on-field performance, Zambrano has been plagued by anger, selfishness and immaturity. He has punched his catcher, gotten suspended for taking a bat to a Gatorade dispenser, missed flights, called out fans and even ripped into team captain Derek Lee for missing a sharply hit grounder. 

Zambrano apologizes every time and says he wants to remain a Cub for life. How much are apologies worth when the same embarrassing behavior continually occurs? 

In a city that embraces its confrontational coaches and athletes, you can ask any Chicagoans, specifically Cubs fans, and they will all tell you the same thing: "I have had enough of Carlos Zambrano."

His latest spat, in which he threw at Chipper Jones, got ejected and told clubhouse staff that he was planning to retire, was just the latest hissy fit in a long line of immature behavior that has many in Chicago clamoring for him to stay away.

Like the Star Wars movies, hopefully the demise of Zambrano will spawn a new Cubs savior. Hopefully it's not another quarter-century away.