Carlos Zambrano recently won his 100th game. That's a bigger deal these days than it has been in the past, but of course reports had to ask him if he can reach 300 wins (because Randy Johnson just accomplished that feat.) And here's what he said:
"After this contract, I'm done," said Zambrano, who is signed through 2012 with a vesting option for 2013. "I'm serious. I don't want to play. I want to help this team, I want to do everything possible to win with this team, but after five years or four years, or whatever I have left on my contract, I just don't want to play."
Nice Big Z. I've talked to a couple friends about what he said and we all agree that there is no real problem for thinking this way. While we're working regular jobs that pay us anywhere from $30,000 to $90,000 a year, (I'm estimating a broad range, I don't actually know everyone's salary) Zambrano is making $91.5 million over five years. Unless I hit the big time with my music, harness the power of Chuck Norris' tears, or I get subcontracted to psychologically talk Brett Favre out of continuing to play retirement hokey-pokey and I succeed, I have a feeling I will not be making $91 million anytime soon.
So who cares if he decides to retire to hang out with his kids, or whatever he wants to do? Not me. I understand that when you have that much money, if you are smart, you can live out the rest of your days without working. What a beautiful thing! The catch is, of course, why the hell do you tell the media this? Here are some possibilities:
- Looking for attention. Big Z is lonely because everyone is afraid they'll end up like the Wrigley Field Gatorade machine if they say the wrong thing around him. The media, of course, is happy to indulge him.
- His future job as a Miss Cleo-type fortune teller depends on it. He's bummed that his Cy Young and World Series predictions haven't come true, so he's now predicting something he can control.
- It's a bargaining chip. He wants the Cubs or some other team to bid against his retirement at the end of his contract. It worked with Roger Clemens- so why not Big Z? What about Big Z?! What about Raven!?
- This season is grinding him down. It's painfully obvious the Cubs have not been firing on all cylinders. They look like a rickity machine that needs constant maintenence every few days. Once they get going (say, for two wins in a row) something else happens to stall them out. I don't think Zambrano is the most mentally tough athlete so this is probably getting to him.
- Speaking of mental toughness, Z does not strike me as someone who loves working out. This could be another reason he wants to retire. He could retire, buy a Checkers burger franchise and live out the rest of his days (do they even have those anymore?)
- He's serious and he doesn't care who knows.
I think the biggest problem I have with announcing it to the media is that he's creating a story that the media can latch onto in his final contract year. He's also mentally starting to check out from the team before his contract is up. Trust me, Carlos. You have a great job. The years you can do this job are fairly limited, so you may not want to cash in your chips so early. Or maybe you do- but if they are paying you to play baseball, it is NOT your job to talk about retirement.