Memorable Big Z meltdowns

Cubs beat writer Bruce Miles covered Carlos Zambrano’s entire Cubs career, which began in 2001. Here are his most memorable Zambrano meltdowns:

June 1, 2007: This was the infamous “Michael Barrett game,” during which Zambrano and the catcher fought in the dugout after the Atlanta Braves scored 5 runs in the fifth inning. Barrett had just endured a rough inning behind the plate, and it set off Zambrano. Zambrano then put a beating on Barrett in the clubhouse. Not long afterward, the Cubs traded Barrett.

June 7, 2008: During a train wreck of a seventh inning of a Saturday afternoon game at Dodger Stadium, Zambrano went WWE on a couple of Gatorade jugs. He kicked one and then body-slammed it. He then flung a heavier Gatorade jug, no doubt risking injury. Asked if he was frustrated, he said: “No, there was no frustration. I don’t use that word. I don’t know what that is.” Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who was at the mound at the time of the tirade, said he probably would have enjoyed it had he been in the dugout.

May 27, 2009: After the Pirates’ Nyjer Morgan evaded Zambrano’s tag at home plate and umpire Mark Carlson correctly called Morgan safe, Zambrano made contact with Carlson, who promptly ejected him. Zambrano then mocked Carlson by “ejecting” him. On his way back to the dugout, Zambrano threw the baseball into left field and hurled his glove at the dugout fence. For good measure, he took a bat at the short-lived Gatorade machine in the dugout. He wound up on Major League Baseball’s suspended list from May 28-June 4.

June 25, 2010: Zambrano had just given up 4 runs to the White Sox in the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field when he came into the dugout and began yelling. Teammate Derrek Lee took offense, apparently thinking Zambrano was mad at him for not reaching a ball hit down the first-base line. The Cubs suspended Zambrano, and he spent time in anger-management counseling, not returning until the end of July. He went 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA down the stretch, providing false hope that things would be better in the future.

Aug. 12, 2011: This was Zambrano’s final game as a Cub. He was ejected after throwing at the Braves’ Chipper Jones in the fifth inning. Zambrano packed up his stuff, left the park and indicated he would retire from baseball. Then-Cubs GM Jim Hendry, who already knew he had been fired, suspended Zambrano, and the Cubs placed him on the disqualified list.

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