If you are fortunate enough to root for a team that has an intense rivalry, you probably have someone on the opposing team you raise your level of hate for. Red Sox fans have it for Jeter and A-Rod; Patriots fans have it for Peyton Manning; Raiders fans have it for the rest of humanity. As a Cardinals fan, we've always saved our most violent vitriol for Carlos Zambrano. (Cubs fans feel the same way about Jim Edmonds, we understand.) The main reason we hate Zambrano is the only excuse for really hating an opponent: He's awesome, and awfully loud about it. (He also likes to throw at Cardinals batters and then scream at them; that's always good for some bile.)

Anyway, Zambrano has noticed that the Cubs have been spending money like crazy this offseason and, understandably, he wants a piece of that pie. And he wants it in the third person.

"I'm ready to sign, and I would do my job anyway with the Cubs this year," Zambrano said. "Whatever happens, I don't want to know [anything] about a contract during the season. I want to sign with the Cubs before the season starts. If they don't sign me, sorry, but I must go. That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks."

"When you're a great pitcher and have talent, you deserve the money no matter who gives it to you," he said. "Zito is a great pitcher. Good for him he has that contract, and I think that will help me. [Cubs general manager] Jim [Hendry] spent a lot of money. I hope he has more for 'Big Z.'"

The way contracts went this offseason, it's difficult to deny that Zambrano deserves pretty much whatever he asks for, even if it's more time online. Anybody who can comfortably refer to himself as "Big Z" has earned a big payday.

Zambrano: "I Must Go" If No Deal [Chicago Tribune]

(UPDATE: Video of the interview can be found here.)