The importance of substance and education

The importance of substance and education
Zambrano dominated the headlines over the weekend

Over the weekend Chicago sports fans were delighted by the Hall of Fame inductions of former Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman, Artis Gilmore and assistant coach Tex Winter.

In addition to those three inductions, former Bulls broadcaster Jim Durham was a co-recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award, while former Bulls media and marketing director Brian McIntyre received the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award.

You would think that the city’s sports headlines would revolve around the accomplishments of those five figures, but instead, Chicago’s sports media was focused on the anger and frustration of Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

After his latest meltdown against the Atlanta Braves last Friday, it appears that the marriage between the Cubs and the 30-year-old ace will finally come to an end, albeit an ugly one.

While sifting through stories after the fact, I found some great articles that exemplified the art of going beyond the basic “six W’s” coverage. The articles focused on different aspects of Zambrano’s actions and showed that this behavior was nothing that the Cubs weren’t used to.

This article by the Tribune’s Phil Rodgers explains why the pitcher’s temperament made the Cubs’s investment in him a ticking time bomb:  It’s way past time for Cubs to cut losses.

In the article, Rodgers goes back to when Zambrano was given a five-year $91 million contract even with his emotional issues being well documented.

Neither [Jim] Hendry nor the Cub fans who cheered Zambrano's contract extension on Aug. 17, 2007 are deserving of sympathy on this one. That deal was signed a little more than two months after his ugly dugout/clubhouse assault on catcher Michael Barrett, which began after the Braves pounded 13 hits against Zambrano, raising his ERA to an embarrassing 5.62.

The point of Rodgers article is it's time for the Cubs to rid themselves of the pitchers antics and he does a great job of providing facts and incidents to show that his outburst last Friday pales in comparison to incidents in the past that gave the team all the warning signs possible to let them know that this wouldn't be a wise investment.

I also came across some very good pieces by the Tribune’s Paul Sullivan, detailing the history of some of Zambrano’s outbursts: Carlos Zambrano timeline and Retirement talk nothing new for Zambrano.

In the first article, Sullivan chronicles some of Big Z's most famous meltdowns and some of his more candid moments, like his guarantee to the Tribune in March of 2010 that he had changed his erratic ways.

Sullivan's second article does a great job of examining the last time Zambrano had hinted of retiring during the 2009 season in which he finished with a 9-7 record.

"Look, this is the only season I haven't won 16 or 18 or 14 games," he told the Tribune. "If it happens again next season, two seasons in a row, I'll quit. Believe me, I'll quit. I just have to put this behind me."

Again, these two articles document the troubled past past of Zambrano, using facts and statements to educate the readers.

The worst story I read over the weekend went to Steve Rosenbloom from the Chicago Tribune for his opinionated column titled: Cubs must quit on the quitter.

The reason I say it's the worst is because while Rosenbloom's piece is his own opinion, it's extremely one-sided and personal.

While columns are the means to get ones opinions across, I feel in getting those thoughts through to your reader, it should be done in a way that informs the reader why you feel a certain way.

Rosenbloom's column was one-sided and very personal in his bashing of Zambrano.  The column seemed rushed and emotionally-driven.

He wasn’t a teammate. He was more like a fungus. He goes away for a while, but always comes back.

In my introductory article Heaven is a newspaper, I mentioned the importance of educating readers and how big a responsibility that is.

I feel with the platform that Rosenbloom is given, he owes his readers more than a 261-word column that hardly informs and is lacking in any substance other than his scathing of Zambrano.


Christopher Cason covers the Chicago Bulls for the and freelances for HOOP magazine and contributes to He will be providing a look into Chicago sports journalism every Wednesday at Eye on Chi. You can follow him on twitter @C4DUNK.

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