Starlin Castro Has Fun Playing a Game, Not Everyone is Amused
You might disagree, but for my money it doesn’t get much better than Starlin Castro almost booting the final out of the game before recovering to flip to Addison Russell for the force at second. Wednesday’s contest was the third in a row in which it looked like the Cubs might snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and the sweet relief of victory was very welcome indeed.
Under other circumstances, such a routine play wouldn’t even be a footnote in the recap of the game. But this wasn’t exactly a normal game, nor is Castro a normal player. Take that how you will, but the guy can certainly be polarizing.
In the first inning, with Peter Bourjos attempting to steal 2nd, Castro leaped to his left to field the errant throw from David Ross, then swept his glove behind him to tag the runner out all in one motion. It was a thing of beauty that withstood Mike Matheny’s challenge and probably filled Cardinals fans with even more righteous indignation than normal.
But that’s not what got everyone really hot and bothered. No, that move came early in the 6th inning, a frame that has proven to be the Cubs’ Achilles heel this season. With 1 out and no one one, Kris Bryant slid to his left to field an easy grounder from Mark Reynolds as Castro shadowed him, literally.
This is a child’s game and Castro was having a little fun out there, nothing more and nothing less. Not everyone saw it that way though. After the Cardinals went on to score 2 two-out runs in the inning, many were actually blaming it on the Cubs shortstop. Not on an Addison Russell error and some incredible good BABIP fortune for Jason Heyward and Yadi Molina, but on a guy showing us that this is, after all, a game.
While they’re perhaps a bit abrasive, I feel it necessary to share the words I had while in the moment of watching the game and seeing the real-time response online.
We need all available proctologists to Busch Stadium, stat! Multiple reports of sticks in asses. Oh…heads too. Lots, maybe thousands.
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) May 7, 2015
We all get fired up about our teams, but I think more than a few of us need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. I’ll not deign to climb down the rabbit hole of the face-meltingly hot takes that were flying around, but they’re easy enough to find if you know where to look.
The frustration level tonight was high coming into the game and it only got worse as the controversial calls on the field and in the zone turned things up to 11. In response to some particularly questionable strike calls, Joe Maddon was ejected for claiming the the home plate umpire was attempting to have relations with the young Cubs players.
I loved Starlin Castro treating baseball like a game and I also loved Joe Maddon treating it like serious business. In their own ways, both men were able to vent some of the pressure that has clearly been building in and around this improved ballclub. But it wasn’t until that baseball found itself nestled firmly in Russell’s glove representing the 27th dead bird that everyone could truly relax.
I’m not putting any more value or weight on this game than any other, but I’m not about to dismiss it out of hand either. Time will tell whether this was another blip on the radar or a real coming of age, but I know for certain that it was very satisfying as a fan.
And by that, I mean in the same way finally getting into the bathroom after standing in line for 2 innings or realizing that you didn’t really hit “reply all” on that email after all is satisfying. I forgot what hard work this being competitive stuff can be, but I’m glad Castro was there to tell me to lighten up a little.
In the end, it was just nice to see the Cubs hold on down the stretch after a couple of ugly implosions. How did you feel about it, Starlin?