Carlos Zambrano's No-No Becomes a Momentary Boo-Hoo

Dan HoehneContributor ISeptember 14, 2008

I think I've established that I am as ardent a Cubs fan as you will find.

Since 1977, I've been stitched in as part of the fabric of the team.

I've suffered greatly, as a result of this early-childhood affliction.

But it is because of the sufferings that the moment of pure elation at successes can be felt.

I've seen the team win the most unlikely of games and was beside myself in joy.

I've seen them lose games they had been all of assured of winning and was reminded that this is just how things went sometimes.

Some of the latter has been witnessed all too recently, as imminent fears of a full-on collapse to this wondrous season were in full bloom.

But tonight was an especially special one.

It started out as a grave disappointment, in that, living in Florida now, I'm not able to access as many Cubs games on TV as I did before.

I knew the originally scheduled game against the Astros, in Houston, was supposed to be on WGN.

With the horrific events in southeast Texas over the weekend, nothing was assured.

But when it was announced that the game would be played on Sunday, albeit, in Milwaukee, I had a faint glimmer of hope.

It's nearby; it was scheduled as a WGN event; so why would it not be shown?

I even went to the Cub website to see if it would be shown on WGN, and the website confirmed it.

But when 8 PM ET rolled around, I was seeing a Newhart episode when I turned to good ol' Channel 9, 29 on my Comcast dial.

"Oh well," I thought. "I guess I'll just have to check in, from time to time, on"

A usual refrain these days, as somehow, WGN feels it can get more viewers from old reruns than from actual, live games of a team that is headed for the playoffs.

So, after flipping between the Sarah Palin biography on some channel and Castaway on TBS, I looked up and it was 9:30, again, Eastern Time.

I figured, "oh, it must be around the sixth or seventh inning."

Close but not quite.

Bottom of the fifth, Cubs up 5-0.

Oh, and the Astros didn't have a hit as yet.

Wait, who's pitching again?

Oh, Zambrano!

Welcome back from your shoulder issues. Now this is the Big Z we hoped for.

But as nice as it seemed that he was shutting them down, the thoughts of a no-hitter, well, they weren't really anything I thought about.

Sure, Carlos is one of those pitchers that they say, "With his stuff, he's a threat to throw a no-hitter any night."

True that, but he's also one that, to anyone who has seen him, can implode at a moment's notice and turn a one-hit shutout, into a five hit, five walk, one hit batsman, eight-run inning.

So while I thought it was a good sign that he was pitching well, I didn't give much thought to the no-no.

Checked back a while later, through seven, still no hits, and the lead was still the same.

At that point, I fell back upon one of my old idiosyncratic beliefs.

The Cubs are doing well without you checking in, so stop right now and just wait to find out the result.

Later on, after watching some sordid, astonishingly warped bunch of minds in a documentary about L.A. gangs, I flipped to SportsCenter, to see if the White Sox-Tigers game was finally over.

And amid week two of the NFL season, their lead story was that Carlos, the Big Z, had pitched the first Cub no-hitter since Milt Pappas in 1972.

Like I've said, I've been a Cub fan for a long time and had seen just about everything, including back-to-back triples (Ivan DeJesus and Lenny Randle, circa 1980).

But I'd never seen a no-hitter.

And, well, to this day, I've never seen a Cub throw a no-hitter, thanks to WGN.

But just seeing that it had actually happened, that a player on MY team had accomplished this feat, I have to admit, I got nutty.

A conglomeration of elation, fist-pumping, jumping up and down, smiling and sobbing all at the same time.

The fact that the Brewers and Cardinals had already lost this day, expanding the lead was a side thought that added a bit to it.

But in my Cub-fan lifetime, to have one of them do this, that was all I cared about.

I will sleep well tonight, with a smile on my face, in knowing that it happened.

It's just a shame I couldn't see it.


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