White Sox-Cubs has brought about some memorable meltdowns
By Joe Cowley firstname.lastname@example.org May 17, 2012 9:46PM
Big Z Gone Wild June 25, 2010 Carlos Zambrano gave up four runs in the first inning but saved his best stuff for the dugout, getting into it with teammate Derrek Lee. The two had to be separated, and Zambrano was sent home.
Big Z Gone Wild
June 25, 2010
Carlos Zambrano gave up four runs in the first inning but saved his best stuff for the dugout, getting into it with teammate Derrek Lee. The two had to be separated, and Zambrano was sent home.
Updated: July 1, 2012 11:53AM
The last bit of crazy left town this past offseason.
Long gone were the days of Sweet Lou Piniella. Where have you gone, Michael Barrett? Milton Bradley? Then bye-bye went Ozzie Guillen, and he took Carlos Zambrano with him to Miami.
That leaves one burning question to answer as the White Sox and Cubs begin their crosstown series Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field: So who punches A.J. Pierzynski now?
“Oh, man,’’ Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija said with a laugh when asked.
OK, maybe the line of questioning was a bit direct, but this is North Side vs. South Side still, correct? That means expect the unexpected. That means a meltdown by someone — manager, coach, general manager or player — is bound to happen, whether it’s this weekend at Wrigley or in June at the Cell.
The problem is the list of suspects has dwindled. And dwindled drastically.
“You’ve still got Pierzynski over there,’’ Cubs right-hander Matt Garza said with a smile when asked to pick out the likely candidate for controversy.
Cubs players understand their new culture is such that the days of going after each other in the dugout are over. That means no Piniella telling Bradley that he’s a ‘‘piece of s---’’ or Zambrano having to be separated from fighting with Derrek Lee.
“I don’t think so,’’ Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano said when asked if he was expecting craziness at some point this weekend. “The group that we have is a nice group. We don’t like to fight each other. We play together. We play hard, and that’s all we can do. Lots of good things can happen. There’s no more negatives in this clubhouse.’’
Take that, Zambrano.
But say what you want about Big Z, he made the series interesting. His 2010 incident with Lee goes down as the second-most combustible moment, just behind Barrett sucker-punching Pierzynski.
“We’re hungry to win,’’ Soriano said. “Before, it’s not like that. Now all the negative things, the fighting each other and not playing hard, it’s done. Now it’s a new group, and everybody is happy.
“Nobody wants to punch [anyone]. Nobody wants to fight. I think that’s in the past.’’
That seems to be the common theme with the Cubs these days.
“I know everyone in this clubhouse has their heads screwed on pretty straight,’’ Samardzija said. “I don’t think anyone is willing to put themselves in that spotlight in a negative way. I think everyone is here for the team.’’
Not that some players aren’t trying to step up and be candidates to have that bull’s-eye on their back.
Take lefty reliever Will Ohman, who pitched for the Cubs from 2000 to ’07 and joined the Sox in 2011. Ohman threw his best pitch of the season right at the heads of Cubs fans Thursday, insisting of Wrigley, “It doesn’t matter what game it is in the season, it’s still the biggest bar in the world.’’
He promised to get a hose and spray down the fans in the left-field bleachers, weather permitting, then fired off, “The only downside is sometimes the fans are there more for the experience than the actual game.
‘‘It’s such a varied crowd. Some are there because it’s Wrigley, some because they’re die-hard Cubs fans and some because it’s a Saturday day game and a good time to get your buddies together and have a laugh.’’
We have a winner.
So now who punches Ohman?