As noted in a comment on yesterday’s rant, Carlos Zambrano will not be playing for the Long Island ducks in the Atlantic League; he signed a minor league contract with the Phillies yesterday and will be in “extended spring training” for “evaluation”. Zambrano is 32 years old; he has a career record of 132-91; he has been to the All-Star game several times. The Phillies have lost Roy Halladay from their rotation for the season due to shoulder surgery and another of their projected starters, John Lannan, has been on the shelf for most of the season with a knee injury. Looking strictly at the numbers, you would say this was a smart signing…
Then, there is the dark side… Zambrano is mercurial to put it as politely as I can. He has a history of lashing out at teammates, opponents and umpires. His final game with the Cubbies back in 2011 saw him give up 5 HRs, then throw at Chipper Jones and suffer an ejection. He went to the clubhouse, cleaned out his locker, told the clubhouse guy he was retiring and left the stadium before the game was over.
Here is a bright side to this signing. As a pitcher, he is a well-above-average hitter. He sports a career batting average of .238 with 24 homeruns and 71 RBIs. He might just give the Phils another bat on the bench…
According to reports, the minor league contract he signed has an opt-out clause in it whereby the Phillies have to put him on the major league roster by 1 July or Zambrano can demand a release and become a free agent once again. He did pitch in the World Baseball Classic in March so he is coming to “extended spring training” in somewhat better condition than as if he had been sitting on his keister all winter. Having said all of that, the pivotal issue here is the condition of Zambrano’s brain and the degree to which it has a measure of control over his emotions.
I also mentioned yesterday the story that 78,000 people had “signed up” to take a one-way trip to Mars. That got me to thinking… As currently envisioned, the voyage to Mars would take 4 people on the journey so – in a perverse way of looking at it – this represents a way to rid Planet Earth of 4 souls. At the same time, there are four faces carved into Mount Rushmore. You see where this is headed, no doubt… Here is the question:
Who is on your Mount Rushmore of folks to send to Mars in the ultimate “addition by subtraction” activity for Planet Earth?
Since I made up the game, I get to make up the rules too. I am going to eschew any and all political figures here and limit the possibilities to celebs and sports folks. I have two reasons for imposing that stipulation:
1. I do not want to get into a rock-throwing political argument here because as a dedicated centrist I would be the target of rocks from all directions.
2. If I allowed the 535 members of the US Congress to be eligible for this game, I would need at least a year to cut the list all the way down to 50 – and I am not sure I have enough years left exchanging oxygen in the biosphere to whittle it down to 4.
My guiding principle here would be to have a crew of 4 on the vessel such that the world would be a better place for their departure in that I would never need to hear from or about them again. I do not intend to use this as “retribution”; I have a friend who is a Phillies’ fan and who has never forgiven Mitch Williams for giving up the homerun to Joe Carter in the 1993 World Series; he might want Mitch Williams on the trip to Mars; I will not use my list for that purpose.
My ten nominees are – in alphabetical order:
Lance Armstrong – Let him off the ship first so that the first man to set foot on another solar system body would also be named “Armstrong”
Celine Dion – If you have to ask, I could never explain why.
Mark Emmert – He is the head of the NCAA; that is plenty of justification.
Nancy Grace – The sound of her voice feels like someone is running a cheese grater up and down my spinal cord.
Terrell Owens – I never need to hear from or about him again.
Alex Rodriguez – Enough already.
Jacques Rogge – He is the head of the IOC; see “Mark Emmert” above.
David Stern – I would never lament the absence of the Viscount of Verisimilitude.
Joe Theismann – I would never have to fear hearing him announce a football game again.
Donald Trump – Think of the great real estate development opportunities for him on a virgin planet…
Note the absence here of names like José Canseco and Dennis Rodman. The reason I would not put them on the one-way journey is that there remains some humor value in the outrageous things these folks say. I just looked at my ten nominees and none of them provides me with any chuckles – ever.
Now, I invite readers to add and subtract from the list and then we can put a bunch of folks into “astronaut training” and ultimately come up with “The Crew to Mars”.
Finally, here is a note from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald about someone who came close to getting on my list of ten nominees above:
“Kobe Bryant and his mother are feuding in court over her right to sell his memorabilia. Not sure who’s less likable here. Someone who seems to be doing a rotten thing, or Kobe on general principle.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………