The Carlos Zambrano Owner's Manual
Congratulations, you’ve purchased or traded for your very own Carlos Zambrano. Your Zambrano possesses unparallelled physical tools and athletic ability for a pitcher, but he is not a toy. He’s a volatile, fragile, highly sensitive machine–one that requires constant supervision and care. With that in mind, here are some warnings and guidelines as you prepare to activate your Carlos Zambrano.
Do not, under any circumstances, start your Carlos Zambrano on Opening Day. Studies have shown that the pomp and excitement surrounding Opening Day almost always combine to overwhelm a Zambrano’s circuits, causing him to meltdown in spectacular fashion. Some Zambranos have been known to completely lose sight of the strike zone on Opening Day–others have downshifted into “Batting Practice” mode, surrendering insurmountable leads to their opponents. The severity of the damage an Opening Day start can do to your Zambrano should not be underestimated–in a few cases, it took several weeks to fully recalibrate the Zambranos, resulting in several wasted starts.
Refrain from using words like “ace” or phrases like “anchor of our staff” around your Carlos Zambrano. The makers of the Carlos Zambrano built him with the largest possible ego already in place–any such talk within earshot of your Zambrano will cause an expansion of that ego and lead to malfunctions on the field. To ensure your Zambrano stays in proper working order, it’s best to keep your public expectations for him modest. While Zambranos can occasionally perform well under pressure, it’s best not to tamper with the delicate mental inner-workings of your Zambrano by letting on how important he might be to the overall success of your team.
Your Carlos Zambrano lacks the basic instincts for self-maintenance–you will need to compensate for this by caring for him much like a small child. For example, your Zambrano won’t see a problem staying up all night chatting online with friends in South America, even though he knows that much typing leads to forearm cramps (one of the recurring weaknesses with this model). He will further exacerbate his inclination to cramping by drinking too much soda and not enough water before hot and humid day game. It will be infuriating when he breaks down mid-summer, but rest assured he will, probably in the midst of a playoff run or some other key situation.
In addition to the cramping, your Zambrano will sometimes do inadvertent damage to himself during the course of a normal start. Zambranos are built with no shortage of youthful exuberance for the game of baseball, which, if left unchecked, can lead to any number of freak accidents and bizarre injuries. Throwing and swinging too hard, stretching singles into doubles, attempting to leg out impossible infield hits, and scrambling for fly balls well out of his reach have all been known to cause injury and even missed service time for Carlos Zambranos, and should be avoided whenever possible. Your Zambrano is capable of astounding athletic achievement, but the fact that he knows it is a programming flaw we have so far been unable to correct. For best results, don’t encourage your Carlos Zambrano after stunning plays–he’ll be less likely to try to top himself.
On the topic of hitting, there are a few more things to be aware of. No matter what kind of at-bat the game situation calls for, your Carlos Zambrano will always swing for the fences on every pitch within his over-sized strike zone. While it does create some exciting and even entertaining at-bats, the results won’t live up to the boundless self-assurance of your Zambrano. And regardless of the outcome, it’s important to occasionally use your Zambrano as a pinch-hitter. This will keep him somewhat mentally engaged on his off days, and will help regulate his sensitive morale levels.
In the event your Carlos Zambrano does hit a home run, it’s important to remove him from the game as soon as possible. The excitement of hitting the home run and running the bases almost always proves to be too much for the Zambrano, and he can’t settle back down in time to pitch in the next half of the inning. Keeping his delicate morale in mind, it’s better for him to exit the game on a high note than to return to the mound for what is almost sure to be a letdown inning.
Owners of a Carlos Zambrano need to pay special attention to team chemistry and makeup. Surrounding your Zambrano with high-character players will help guard against occasional meltdowns, and help stabilize his mercurial nature. That’s not to say there won’t be problems–a Zambrano can and will make waves in even the calmest of clubhouses. He will occasionally throw tantrums on the mound, in the dugout, and in the clubhouse because of missed defensive plays in the field. At any given time, regardless of the score or impact of the play, he will show up any player on your roster, including veterans with multiple Gold Gloves, if he think a play wasn’t made. A steady veteran core to you roster will help limit the damage your Zambrano can do, but it cannot curtail it altogether. If you don’t mind the inherent risks, your Carlos Zambrano might benefit from limited exposure to an even more volatile model, like a Milton Bradley. While there’s no guarantee that your Zambrano’s behavior will improve, he’s sure to look good by comparison.
Another fundamental flaw in the Carlos Zambrano is the complete inability to win over the media. You will find that your Zambrano is prone to exaggerated statements, confusing sarcasm, vague accusations, and the uncanny ability to deflect and redirect blame to teammates, coaching staff, and even the fans. Don’t be surprised by sudden announcements about retirement, stunningly unfunny jokes about which teams he’d rather play for, and shockingly brazen predictions about his future accomplishments in the coming season. Few if any of these statements will be based in reality, and most can be ignored out of hand. Whenever possible, it’s best to keep your Zambrano out of range of any microphones or beat reporters.
It’s important to remember that as he adapts to your specific team situation, your Carlos Zambrano will find many unique opportunities for success and for failure that we cannot predict at this time. Don’t be surprised when your Zambrano lets you down in some unforeseen way–the Carlos Zambrano is capable of blazing new trails to futility at any time. Part of the excitement of owning and operating a Zambrano is the unexpected highs and the inopportune lows.
Enjoy owning your own Carlos Zambrano. And please remember, NO REFUNDS.