Hello, Cubs fans. The time has come and the time is now – for some delightful Cubs news items. But before I get to that, let me just recount for you the general vibe at Wrigley during Sunday night’s game against the Cardinals (which I attended … thus the recap … did you see my Twitpics?).

It was a dark and stormy night. Ha, quite the opposite, the weather was absolutely perfect. Warm during the day and pleasantly cool once the sun went down. And, if you follow me on Twitter, you know that, once the sun did go down, a full moon rose spectacularly over the Miller Lite sign in right field and made its way up and down (?!) the right field line as the game progressed.

As for the game itself, well, you know how it turned out. (Or do you? I can’t seem to find a VFTB recap here.) Badly. But, believe it or not, I still feel like I saw a great ballgame. There was a little bit of everything – decent-though-not-dominant pitching (Carp v. Demp),  good defense (Byrd and Castro), a home run by the future HoFer King Albert (the sound off his bat was … well … ’nuff said) and just some really, good, tense back-and-forth between the two ancient rivals.

I’d particularly like to note that seeing Tyler Colvin live has upped my respect for the young lad. He’s just a good-looking (and I mean that in a manly way) athlete with a bit of the rock star in him. He really played up tossing the ball into the bleachers after between-innings warmups. Bottom line: He seems comfortable playing at the major league level and at Wrigley Field. Now if he can just lay off that inside breaking junk they keep throwing him and get his OBP up a bit (while maintaining his power, of course), he’ll be well on his way. That’s not too much to ask is it? Well, is it?

As for the crowd, it was quite peaceful in the left field bleachers. There was a quite visible Cards fan presence, which surprised me somewhat on a Sunday night. I figured most of them would’ve headed back to St. Loo for work the next day. (Yeah, I know there are Cards fans who live in the Chicago area. We will find you!) There was a fight somewhere around the centerfield section, but I don’t consort with those ruffians anyway.

All right, all right. Enough of my nonsensical recollecting. On with the news!

Carlos Zambrano apologizes to the nation and the world.  Big Z sat down with an intrepid ESPN reporter yesterday and let us all know that: 1) he was just trying to fire up his team, 2) he’s REALLY sorry, and 3) he’s working on his anger management techniques. Now I have no problem with what Z said – it’s pretty much what I expected and he seemed fairly contrite and subdued in his remarks. My problem with Carlos is that he really should’ve held off on this public display of contrition until after he met with his teammates in Denver later this week.

Why? Because it really doesn’t matter what we, the fans, think of Carlos Zambrano. What really matters is that his teammates know that he really is done with these embarrassing freakouts and that he’s going to do whatever it takes to help the team for the rest of the season. (Not that I have much hope for this season, but there are still games to be played and, given Big Z’s contract, he may very well be around next season with many of those same guys.) Lou Piniella seems to agree with me as his reaction to Z’s interview, quoted in this Carrie Muskat article, is as follows:

I saw a little bit of [the ESPN interview]. I’m sure he’s contrite, and I’m sure he’s looking forward to coming back, but the important thing remains that he talk to his teammates.

To me, the fact that Lou saw fit to bring up the teammate issue says a lot. That same article notes:

Zambrano spoke to ESPN because he was frustrated that he could not speak to the players.

Oh, I see – so he couldn’t control his emotions enough to wait a few more days and a plane ride to Denver. Great. That really bodes well for the future.

One last bit of ammo: I asked Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald about the timing of Z’s response. You can read his response in the comments of this blogpost.

That’s really all I have to say about Carlos Zambrano for the moment. There are no innocent parties here. The Cubs have treated him like crap, he’s treated his teammates like crap, and the band plays on.

Geo rules, but Geo is hurt.  In case you missed it during last night’s game, Geovany Soto fouled a ball off of his foot and spent the next inning or so trying to shake it off. He was eventually replaced by Koyie Hill and the news soon followed that Geo has a bad bruise and will likely miss tonight’s (Tuesday’s) game against the Astros. Get well soon, Geo – your OBP still makes me very, very happy.

Aramis plans to stick around.  Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has a player option on his contract that gives him the right to stick with the Cubs in 2011 or dive into the free agent market. Aramis is “guessing” that he’ll stay in Chicago but still leaving open the possibility that he and his agent could decide otherwise. His devastating April-June slump may have sealed his fate – and ours.

Y’know, I’m OK with that. It’s not like the Cubs have a hot third base prospect waiting in the wings. And his 1.147 OPS over the last 28 days does much to restore my faith that he may have at least one more decent year in him. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2012 at the hot corner, as I don’t think the now-injured Josh Vitters would’ve been ready by then anyway.

Aaaaaaaand now, back by popular demand (that’s a lie!)…

Cubs Next Manager Power Rankings

- 1. Ryne Sandberg. Holding steady at the top spot, Ryno is still the man to beat. Andre Dawson’s Hall of Fame induction (you heard about that, right?) has only stirred up the stirring memories of No. 23′s own induction not too long ago. Oh, and the Iowa Cubs are playing quite well this season thank  you very much.

:-( 2. Bobby Valentine. AUGHHHH!!! My worst nightmare come true. He was in the booth for Sunday night’s Cubs - Cards ESPN game, and his ingratiating comments have rocketed him up the chart. Let’s hope he’s a one-hit-wonder a la Toni Basil.

3. Joe Girardi. Climbing to No. 3, the former Wildcat is on everyone’s respective minds, lips and keyboards as the savviest choice. Sadly, most of us agree that the Bronx Bombers will likely spirit him away to a Manhattan hotspot for a contract extension.

*4. Pat Listach. Wait, who? He’s currently the Nationals (man, have they dropped like a rock or what?Strasburg starts tonight!) third base coach and managed for several years in the Cubs minor league system. He confirms his interest in the position in this Washington Post article. Personally, I like him because his last name rhymes with the word “moustache.”

5. Bob Brenley. Hey, he’s right there in the booth – he’d be an easy interview. But he seems to have wisely gone mum after his Score interview last week.

*Hotshot debut!

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