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updated: 8/13/2011 6:57 PM

Cubs fans should all hope they're rid of Zambrano

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In the heat of battle, Carlos Zambrano walked out on his brothers, leaving them to fight for their honor, breathless in despair and hopeless in defeat.

And that's your nonsensical Cubs narrative of the year, which is saying something considering the circus that has been the 2011 season.

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Please, spare me the war metaphors and the notion that he did something to harm the team after he exited the game Friday night.

This isn't war and it's not even football or hockey, where you can enter and exit at will, injured or not.

It's baseball.

He didn't quit on his team. He merely threatened retirement for the third time in the last three years, like he was really going to leave $22 million on the table.

Zambrano's night was over. It didn't matter if he put on a clown suit and sat in the dugout or flew to Bimini for the night.

Was it wrong for him to leave? Of course. It goes without saying. But in a career filled with childish mistakes and dangerous acts, this doesn't even make Zambrano's top 5, and in the years in which Zambrano was pitching well, the Cubs coddled and enabled and barely blinked at his antics.

But now they view his wacky walkout as an excuse to get out from under some bad money. That's all it is.

So they placed him on the disqualified list without pay for 30 days, though the Players' Association will have something to say about that.

And much as was the case with Milton Bradley, the Cubs are now certain to get nothing more than a bad contract or a bag of balls in return for Zambrano.

Don't get me wrong because I'm thrilled he's gone and I hope it's forever, but this was just Zambrano being Zambrano, which means he reacted like a 2-year-old crashing after a day filled with chocolate and an afternoon without a nap.

What new, right?

He pitched a terrible game and then left the park, claiming to retire from baseball. Big deal.

And that's when Mike Quade chose to take a stand, after saying at least three times this year that the grand veteran Zambrano didn't need a manager to tell him or teach him anything.

Forgive me for laughing but Zambrano didn't injure the Cubs when he departed. Zambrano injured the Cubs before he departed.

He hurt the Cubs when he acted like an idiot during the game, when he was not only bad but also a fool.

The Cubs were down only 2-1 Friday night in Atlanta in the third inning when Dan Uggla came to the plate with a man on and two out.

Uggla had homered his first time up and now on a 2-2 count a frustrated Zambrano appeared to throw right at Uggla.

After the hit batter, Chipper Jones crushed a 2-1 meatball for a 3-run homer and that was your ballgame.

Down 8-1 in the fifth, and after giving up back-to-back homers to Freddie Freeman and Uggla, Zambrano tried and failed twice to hit Jones, and was ejected.

Not only did he throw a lousy game and a temper tantrum, but he also stared at Jones while walking off the field and would have started a bench-clearing brawl if anyone on the Cubs had bothered to move from their seats.

Fortunately, not a single Cub looked even slightly interested in sticking up for this bozo as the Braves left their dugout.

But that's how guys like Zambrano hurt their teammates, by losing games and then starting fights in which someone suffers an injury.

As for what he did after the game, that in no way, shape or form -- despite the suddenly tough talk from Quade -- did anything to hurt his teammates.

If anything, they were happy to be rid of him.

Besides, Zambrano has always had his own set of rules and Quade made sure it was no different this year.

So where he's really damaged the Cubs is by collecting $18 million a year and not performing because he's an emotional wreck and no amount of counseling up to this point has made a difference.

The Cubs have tried more than you'll ever know and to Jim Hendry's credit he has worked overtime behind the scenes to get Zambrano the kind of help that would make a difference.

But you can't help someone until they're ready to accept that help, and Zambrano has never really believed he needed anything.

You get what you pay for and any regular visitor here knows I've never had much use for Zambrano. I didn't like the $91 million extension they gave him in August 2007 and wondered aloud on numerous occasions about the way in which his Cubs career would end.

But now there is shock throughout Chicago and baseball -- not to mention the world's financial markets -- that Carlos Zambrano has gone off the deep end.

Shock, I tell you. Shock.

There is hysteria because he has done the impossible, managed the unthinkable, offered the irretrievable.

Except, not so much.

Save the cliché about how he did the one thing you can never do to your teammates.

Seriously?

Compared to the long list of things he has done, this was nothing. He didn't take a bat to a teammate, he didn't punch a wall and he didn't wreck the team bus. He didn't even turn over the postgame spread or rip the fans.

Nope, the reality is that all he did was walk out on a bad team.

In any case, here's hoping this time it's for real -- and for good.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM. Follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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