Turns out, Carlos Zambrano will be well-rested for that next start – next spring, in the Cactus League.
After Saturday’s loss to Arizona, Chicago now trails a best-of-five series 3-0, and as pitcher Rich Hill cleans out his locker today, even Mr. Sunshine has to admit things are looking pretty bleak.
There is no Steve Bartman, Leon Durham or Lee Smith to blame for the latest Cubbie collapse in October. No local billy goats, black cats creeping around Shea Stadium or bugs flying over from Cleveland to allow Wrigleyville to curse the heavens.
The Cubs remain snakebit, that’s for sure. But this time, the culprit was a pit of young, aggressive Diamondbacks, pure and simple. The first 98 years of futility might be traced to the weird and wacky, but this was all about a determined team that played like it has nothing to lose – which of course, it doesn’t.
Can you think of anything Arizona did wrong in this series? All the big hits, all the momentum-turning homers – including Chris Young’s bomb on Hill’s first pitch of Game 3 – were in their column.
The defense was slick; the starting pitchers were stout (although watching any Livan Hernandez start is like watching six straight innings of Jose Valverde closing) and the bullpen was perfect.
Unless someone tipped badly on Rush Street Friday night, that’s a pretty clean slate.
The Diamondbacks trailed for less than a half-inning in the entire series.
When you’re that overwhelmingly dominant, any possible help from the supernatural can be saved for later.
• Forget the nine children he has fathered with nine different women. Forget that he’s squandered all his NFL riches and is about to blow the perfect situation in Denver.
Here’s all you need to know about Denver running back Travis Henry:
Nine days before he was due to rotate out of the NFL’s substance abuse program, Henry tested positive for marijuana. You just can’t make stuff like that up, folks.
• Worst job in sports this week: Being Ted Lilly’s glove. (By the way, was anyone really looking for a nails playoff performance from a guy named “Lilly”?)
• The Pirates fired Jim Tracy after two losing seasons. But now that the Pirates have had 15 straight losing seasons, maybe the manager isn’t the problem? Did Tracy trade a prospect to San Francisco for $8 million worth of washed-up Matt Morris at the deadline?
• Yes, gentle readers, I’m getting close to apologizing to Brett Favre for all those “please retire” comments. Let’s give the Pack until the end of October – they get the injury-riddled Bears today – to see if they’re for real.
• Andy Roddick has signed a deal with a beverage company to create Hypotonic Performance Sports Drink, which the press release says is “targeted towards the competitive athlete.”
If there’s any concoction on the planet that can make Roddick competitive against Roger Federer, I say “Drink up, Andy!”
WEEK IN REVIEW
To the Coyotes for playing aggressive, disciplined, exciting hockey in a season-opening win over St. Louis. It was obvious that Wayne Gretzky did some heavy-duty coaching in training camp and sold a disciplined system to his wide-eyed charges. I wouldn’t get too giddy, however: The NHL road is long and unforgiving, and you wonder how many times these kids can dial up that performance as the season wears on.
You know who Marion Jones hurt the most this week by finally admitting she took steroids to win Olympic gold medals? The next clean athlete accused of being a user who glares into the camera at a press conference, indignantly proclaiming “I have never, ever used performance enhancing drugs.” And the world will roll its eyes and say “that sounds just like Rafael Palmeiro, Floyd Landis and Marion Jones.”
LeBron, you can privately root for whatever team you want. But the next time you show up at Jacobs Field for a Yankees-Indians playoff game, leave your Bronx Bomber hat at home. Talk about a lack of class. This is a long-suffering city, dying for a championship in any sport — the Cavaliers still haven’t won one, by the way — and it’s a real slap in the face for its icon to openly root for Cleveland to lose. Somebody get Drew Carey on the phone!
THE HIGH FIVE
Isiah Thomas was certainly disappointed after he was found liable of sexually harassing a female former Knicks executive in federal court this week. But there were a few upsides to the whole ordeal:
FIVE: He had a chance to model all of the new suits he’ll wear during the regular season.
FOUR: A judge ordered he couldn’t speak to the press during the trial … good times!
THREE: He didn’t have to watch his awful team during voluntary workouts.
TWO: No one from the prosecution brought up that whole kissing
Magic Johnson thing.
ONE: Everyone in New York is too mad at the Mets to notice.