[Zambrano announces he’ll soon join this Cub Gatorade machine and Sammy Sosa in retirement.]

Following this week’s shock announcement that Sammy Sosa is still a player, Carlos Zambrano last night announced his own graceful exit from baseball for 2012.  At 28, he’s a 100-game-winner, force fed bananas daily, dethroned Iron Man Kerry Wood as the Cubs’ top starter, destroyed a Gatorade machine, has a no-hitter, and tossed his first umpire out a week ago.  Zambrano apparently sees no worlds left to conquer as a Cub, and only the pedantic, stat nerds among you might count  200 more wins to Cooperstown, a World Series ring, a Cy Young Award, or any other measure of baseball greatness.  Big Z has given baseball 12 consecutive Mother’s Days, and for him that’s enough.  Gordon Wittenmyer stood in the locker room as Zamabrano gambled on baseball, to give us this:

‘For 300, me? No, I’ll be out of here in five years,” said Zambrano, who is three years younger than Johnson was when the Big Unit won his 100th.

After his response drew laughter, Zambrano added, ”No, believe me. After this contract I’m done. … I’m serious. Because I don’t want to play anymore.”

Zambrano will be 32 when his five-year, $91.5 million contract expires after the 2012 season — 33, assuming a sixth-year, vesting option is reached.

After accepting a $100 bet from a beat writer that he was serious, Zambrano elaborated ….

”You know how many Mother’s Days I haven’t spent with my mother? Twelve. You know how many things I lose in my life [because of the baseball schedule]?”