The Chicago Cubs’ on-again off-again ace Carlos Zambrano may have been the best pitcher in baseball over the last month and a half of the season.

He took a 54.00 ERA after Opening Day, and turned it into lemons: an ERA over seven by mid May. His epic meltdown followed in late June, after returning to the rotation from an ill-advised stint in the bullpen. Suddenly, a return to respectability seemed like a far off dream.

And then the dream came true. Again. And again. And again. We had more pinch marks than an Irish kid wearing orange on St. Patty’s day, but we still didn’t wake up. It was real.

Zambrano wrapped up the year with a 3.33 ERA – his best in five years – and 117 Ks over 129.2 innings. His last lost came back on June 25 – the day of his meltdown. No one knows what the future holds for Z or the Cubs (well, I suppose we know a little something about the near-certain unpleasant future for the latter), but it was – in the midst of an erstwhile nightmare – a nice little dream stretch to dream.

And then Z wrecked his car leaving Wrigley Field this morning. He’s fine, but let’s hope he didn’t crash hard enough to wake himself up.

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