Z Past, Z Present, and Z Future

No, I won’t be doing today’s posting in French.

After today’s follow up performance by Zambrano and what was clearly a case of no-name guys who won’t ever be pitching in the 8th and 9th innings during the season, blowing the game today, I decided it was pretty clear that was the case and thought of a few things I wanted to talk about.

The first being: my first time ever seeing a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Zambrano was pitching and it was a beautiful day for baseball. Even with quite a rain delay I realized at Wrigley, everyday is a great day for baseball. I was mesmerized instantly with all of it. I loved seeing the familiar faces hanging on the banners…stars I had seen on TV forever and legends who are already in the Hall of Fame. I hit one of the stores pretty hard for new Cubs merchandise and immediately threw on my new 2005 Cubs t-shirt looking forward to taking in the game from the field level, along the first base line. Now this was 2005 so it was nowhere near a team with the type of potential we talk about with this year’s club. One of the biggest names on the team then was Nomar Garciaparra. He hit a home run that day accounting for nearly all of the Cubs runs scored.

It was Sept 24, 2005 and I was there to celebrate my 30th birthday which was coming up a month later. As far as birthday trips go, it ranks right up there as one of the coolest, more thoughtful gifts anyone has ever given me. My girlfriend took me and even though we fought over some stupid stuff while we were there, I still had a great time and loved the fact that I was actually sitting in the sun (once the rain subsided) taking in a game at Wrigley. It was amazing to finally take everything in in person. The marquee outside the stadium, the Harry Caray statue, the scoreboard, the Hey Hey foul pole, the rooftops full of fans, the ivy on the walls. It was amazing. And while seeing Zambrano pitch was as well, his actual pitching was not.

At that point Zambrano still had a .295 BA for the season (pretty impressive) and showed signs of becoming a great pitcher. However it WAS still 2005 and things weren’t exactly good. Big Z gave up 6 runs in 6 1/3 innings and the Cubs lost 8-3. They were eliminated from postseason contention with the loss. Somehow that touch REALLY made me feel like I was experiencing the true Cubs experience. It just felt appropriate that those details should decorate my first time at Wrigley given the history of the team and all that we’ve been through together. Regardless, it was amazing and it was my first time…an event all Cubs fans I believe could tell you their version at the drop of a Lou Piniella hat in the middle of a heated exchange with an umpire. No matter how many times I go, I always look forward to the next time. Here’s the box score and hitting results from that game:

Cubs_v_astros_92405_box_score_1st_game_w

Nowadays though, Zambrano is in a whole new ballpark (not literally, unless of course you thought I meant Fitch). Zambrano is an absolute ace in a rotation that has a few quality starters yet still has a significant drop off from 1-2-3, etc. Lately he has looked great, including today’s game against the Diamondbacks. 3IP, 0 ER, 3K AND he hit a home run! Zambrano_pumping_fist_1This was the second game Big Z looked headed in the right direction for ’08, 2 for 2 so far this Spring. I have a hard time putting into words my excitement about that.

As for Z Future…who knows? But as long he keeps this up, the Cubs are going to be in a great place and baseball is going to be a lot of fun this Summer…if nothing else…at least every five days or so. Way to go Zambrano.

GO CUBS GO!Blogfooter2rectangle_19