Series Preview: Zambranoless Cubs (53-68) Bournless and Penceless Astros (38-83)

This is the hardest series preview I’ve ever had to write.

It’s also the third series preview I’ve ever had to write, but even if it were the 287th, I’m pretty sure it would trump all others in difficulty. You can throw all the previous stats out the window, because they mean nothing.

The Cubs have won a lot of their last just-a-little-more-than-that games, and I think we all know why. Carlos Zambrano was on the way out, and Cubbieverse could sense it. The wins have been pulled along the fringe of the Einsteinian vortex formed by the sheer planetary mass of Carlos Zambrano’s selfish rage. With him no longer weighing down the clubhouse, the Cubs can expect to sail free from the emotional gravity of his evil.

Then we have the Astros with their palindromic win-loss record, which scares me. Yes, they’re without noted Cubs killers Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, but you know who else they’re without? Carlos Zambrano. Surely their spirits have lifted as well. Anything could happen.

Even as I type, Comcast SportsNet prepares to air an interview between Carlos Zambrano and his biggest fan and supporter, David Kaplan. Z will tell us he is sorry. He’ll tell us he is misunderstood. He’ll tell us he still wants to be a Cub. He’ll tell us he and the Cubbie faithful are still tight. Bro, he’ll tell us a cool story. He’ll probably rope Paul Sullivan in for a big bear hug, shed a few angry tears, and blame the whole fiasco on the psychological block that has prevented him from eating dinner for the last 12 months. The spiritual explosion between Kap and Z is sure to put the emotional planes of the universe in flux. How can I predict what that will do to the clubhouses at Minute Maid?

I can’t. How can I predict how a youngster like Rodrigo Lopez will be encouraged by the absence of Zambrano’s karma vs. a pitcher who shares the name of another SuperCub castoff, Henry Sosa? Can’t do it. 

How could anyone know how impressively Ryan Dempster will break free of every sorrowful tie that binds him now that Zambrano is no longer ruining the punchlines to all his Matt Foley jokes? Against Brett Myers, who has never had to play alongside much nicer Carloses like Lee and Beltran? Tougher call than a coin flip.

And what about the other pitchers I don’t care enough to look up? I mean, Casey Coleman vs. To Be Announced. Seriously, how do you predict something like that? 

And how, I ask you, in the name of Tony Campana‘s winged boots does anyone predict how the Astros will perform against the Cubs when Zambrano’s not around to no-hit them? Well, all I can do is weep for the future, wail for the past, and shed a solitary tear for this moment.

Prediction: Cubs sweep. I mean, the Cubs are bad, the moment is bizarre, and the Texas stars may just be aligned, but holy mother of crap do the Astros suck.