And yet there sat Zambrano on Thursday, a day before he was scheduled to go for his major-league-leading 15th victory, calmly telling me he's still willing to give a "hometown discount" to the only organization he ever has known.
Though I felt no need to remind him that his hometown is not Chicago but Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, I did politely ask if he had lost his mind. Why even discuss a five-year deal topping out at $85 million when several owners would throw at least $150 million over eight years at him?
I mean, it's one thing for Mark Buehrle, he of the 85-mph fastball and limited upside, to accept below-market value from poor Jerry Reinsdorf on the South Side of town. Why would a 26-year-old stud - one of the world's best pitchers and the No. 1 potential free agent not nicknamed A-Rod - offer a bargain worth tens of millions of dollars to a filthy-rich franchise that has gone pennant-less since the Truman Administration?