Today I hung out with the family at IKEA (yay cheap furniture!) so I missed most of the Cubs game, in which they pretty much sucked and couldn’t score runs (again). There was a moment on the way home when I tuned in to the radio and while I thought Starlin Castro was up after Donnie Murphy, it was instead Cody Ransom. I thought I had missed something and was hoping Castro wasn’t hurt. Twitter friend Tommy Cook (of Shadows of Wrigley fame) told me (eventually) that Castro had gotten benched because he had a brain fart on an infield fly, which kinda sucks.
After I finished assembling furniture (maybe I should draw some IKEA Cubs instructions later, hehe), I took several more looks at the play in question. I have a few thoughts on it…
- Despite the featured image linked to this post, I believe Dale Sveum was well within reason to bench Castro. It was definitely an infield fly (albeit called late) and Castro did well to get to the ball, but he should not have assumed that the runners would stay put. As the rule states, the batter is out but the baserunners can advance at their own risk. Jon Jay did a great job recognizing this.
- For his part, I felt that Castro may have given way to Junior Lake since Lake would have had a better angle and momentum behind him for the throw home should Jay have tried to tag up regardless. But we’ll never know if Lake would have also had a brain fart either. Lake most likely gets to the ball too; he’s pretty fast.
- However, Castro did a great job recovering and getting a close throw to the plate. He never should have let it get to that point and fired the ball in to the cutoff man right away, but it was a good throw; Jay just got in under the tag.
- Interestingly, as the FOX (I assume FOX, anyway) announcers said, the entire Cubs defense fell asleep. I don’t know from that video who jolted Castro awake, and will probably read about that later, but as the defender who got to the ball, he had the responsibility to check the runners and Sveum couldn’t exactly bench the entire infield anyway. So that’s why Castro got the benching, rather deservedly.
I think since his iron man streak is over, another day off for Castro isn’t going to be surprising, and perhaps he needs some time to get his head back in order. Considering that the entire defense fell asleep, though, it seems unfair to heap all the blame on Castro and a prolonged benching would definitely qualify as “being thrown under the bus” in my opinion. I think of this as yet another teaching moment, and based on post-game Twitterations, Castro knows he fucked up and is unlikely to do it again anytime soon. Will he be guaranteed never to do that again? Probably not, but no baseball player is infallible, not even Hall of Famers. Screw-ups happen, and as long as players like Starlin Castro can learn and grow from them, they’ll always move forward, and hopefully never in reverse.