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CBSSports.com National Columnist

Zambrano quit, but union won't quit defending losers like him


Carlos Zambrano still wants to get paid despite telling the Cubs he wants to quit. (AP)  
Carlos Zambrano still wants to get paid despite telling the Cubs he wants to quit. (AP)  

The MLB Players Association is doing it again, defending the indefensible. A year ago it was Francisco Rodriguez, who beat up his girlfriend's father and tore a thumb ligament against the older man's face. Today it's Carlos Zambrano, who quit on the Chicago Cubs.

These are the guys -- the creeps, the losers -- being defended by the union.

And on the one hand, I get it. No really, I do. Spare me your emails that will say something like, Obviously you don't understand or respect the role of a union ...

First of all, you write well. Nice snappy start to that sentence. But lose the italics, huh? It's distracting.

Second, don't tell me what I understand or respect. You think you know more about unions than I do? Well, you could be right. I've never been a member of one -- never had a chance -- so the brotherhood of a union eludes me. But I understand this story as it relates to the brotherhood of man.

And from that point of view, it's a farce.

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K-Rod beat up his children's grandfather, ended his 2010 season seven weeks early in the process, and thought he had the right to the rest of his 2010 salary. On what planet does that make sense? Only on Planet MLBPA, which orbits Scott Boras, who didn't create this universe but was there giving advice and billing hours when the big bang went down.

When the union stuck up for K-Rod last year -- almost exactly one year ago today -- I begged the Mets to hold firm. They did, and they won. Even though the MLBPA is one of the strongest unions in America, the facts were not on their side. Neither was emotion. Nor decency. Nothing was on the union's side, but still the union plugged ahead because, well, that's what a union does, I guess.

But here's the thing: When a union defends its members even when its members are inarguably wrong, the union loses. Not just in the small picture, though the union lost in the small picture last season when the Mets won the right to withhold the $3.1 million K-Rod couldn't earn after undergoing season-ending thumb surgery. The union also lost in the big picture by throwing its weight behind an abusive ghoul like Francisco Rodriguez.

And now the MLBPA is doing it again. The union is attacking the Chicago Cubs on behalf of Carlos Zambrano, and why? Because the Cubs took Zambrano at his word.

After his latest meltdown on Friday, when he allowed five home runs and got himself ejected by throwing repeatedly at the Braves' Chipper Jones, Zambrano cleaned out his locker, removed the nameplate and told team officials he was quitting.

So guess what the Cubs did? They honored his request. They put him on the 30-day Disqualified List, which means, basically, he quit. It also means he won't get paid for the next month.

And that's why the MLBPA is coming to his aid. All of a sudden, quitting doesn't look like such a bright idea to Big Zero. It's almost like he said to himself, "Wait a minute -- if I quit, I don't get paid?"

And by filing a grievance on his behalf, it's almost like the MLBPA is saying, "We support this man."

Or that's exactly what the union is saying. It's saying it supports Carlos Zambrano, one of the worst teammates in baseball. This is a guy who once attacked his catcher, Michael Barrett, in the dugout. This is a guy who went after another teammate, Derrek Lee, in the dugout.

Now he says he quit, and just like Nolan Richardson tried to do when Arkansas took him up on his threat to quit as the Hogs' basketball coach in 2002, Zambrano is pursuing legal recourse because the Cubs took him up on his offer. Makes no sense -- not Richardson's $8 million race discrimination lawsuit against Arkansas, and not Zambrano's grievance against the Cubs -- but here we are. We have a guy who threatened to quit, had his offer accepted, and now wants to get paid anyway.

That's not the way it works. Richardson's lawsuit ultimately was dismissed, and he hasn't worked in college coaching since. Zambrano should face the same. Call it collusion, call it being blackballed, call it whatever you want -- he shouldn't pitch in the big leagues again.

But that's an issue for another day. Today the issue is the MLBPA and its awful taste in defendants. By aligning itself with an abusive monster like Francisco Rodriguez and now with a selfish quitter like Carlos Zambrano, the union is saying, loud and clear, "This is us. We are Francisco Rodriguez. We are Carlos Zambrano."

Yes you are, MLBPA.

Yes you are.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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