From the Cubs Convention: Z talks no-hitter
It was another jam-packed Cubs Convention weekend — meeting readers at the Vine Line booth in the exhibition hall, hosting sessions on online media and the farm system, and volunteering in the batting cages to demonstrate wheelchair softball with the RIC Cubs — and another great opportunity to get a pulse of the Chicago Cubs and our fanbase. Thanks to everyone who said hi and made it another special weekend!
In the midst of all that, I had the opportunity to listen to Saturday afternoon’s presentation on Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter. Len Kasper moderated the discussion with Big Z and Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
One thing struck me most: After seeing the session with the 1984 Cubs earlier in the day, I realized that 25 years later, Big Z’s no-hitter now might be the defining moment for a new generation of Cubs fans. During the Q&A, several fans were on the verge of tears and relayed their stories of watching the game on TV or traveling on a whim to Milwaukee. The Carlos Zambrano no-hitter Vine Line cover received the most comments at our booth.
We all hope that Z’s no-no is not the peak of this Cubs era, but it is nice to see a new narrative that can sit alongside 1984 and 1969 at future Cubs Conventions.
Other notes from the session:
? Big Z was asked about keepsakes he had from the game. He replied, “My uniform, glove, shoes … I will have those in my house probably until I die.”
? There was an extensive discussion of how bullpen warm-ups translate to the game. Carlos had said that he felt great in the bullpen and that, when he heard the game would be played in Milwaukee, he knew the fans would make it feel like a home game. Larry said that he had really great, heavy stuff warming up. But both said that doesn’t necessarily translate into a good start …
Rothschild: “Sometimes, guys think they have good enough stuff if they throw well in the bullpen, so they don’t turn it up a level in the game.”
Zambrano: “One day against Milwaukee, I was throwing 120 [mph] in the bullpen. [Everyone laughs.] Seriously. I was throwing my fastball nice and easy, and it was going, ‘HAHH! HAHH!’ And it was the shortest outing of my career. [Laughs.]”
? Len, who of course did a phenomenal job moderating the session, became the sideshow when one fan berated him for uttering the phrase “no-hitter” when exiting a late inning. Saying she has been watching games since 1945, she pleaded with him never to utter the phrase during an active one again. Larry agreed and was pleased to get some support on the point, as he and Len have been going back and forth on the idea of jinxing a no-hitter. Len tried to defend himself by saying, “Well, he threw it, didn’t he??”
? But the funniest moment came when a fan asked if Carlos was hoping to bat in the top of the ninth or if he wanted to be rested going into the last three outs. Carlos’ reply? “What do you think?”
— Sean Ahmed