I always knew this day was coming.
Eventually – like some guy once wisely said – all good things must come to an end.
I fully anticipated the day where I would have to draft this blog, but I was never actually ready to write it. Because though he seemed largely disengaged when actually on the field, for whatever reason — Starlin Castro was the most engaging player on the Chicago Cubs.
Notice in that lede I said, “all good things.”
Starlin Castro was a good thing. A good player. A good teammate. A good follow. Good to the fans that scowled and revered him alike.
Of course, I’m speaking in such a manner about Castro following his trade to the New York Yankees on Tuesday evening. The move itself shouldn’t come as a surprise. Castro’s name has been floated around in trade rumors for nearly a year now, and specifically with the Yankees since early October.
When it finally came to fruition, it hit much closer to home.
The 25-year-old Dominican and lifelong Cub was traded to the Bronx for RHP Adam Warren and INF Brendan Ryan. This was shortly after the Cubs closed a 4 year/$56M deal for second basemen and World Series Champion Ben Zobrist via free agency, which served as the lynchpin for Castro’s departure.
Before I proceed, remember that baseball is a business. Players are employees.
But they are also people. Especially to fans. I can’t say this any clearer than I am about to: Starlin Castro will be greatly missed on the North Side of Chicago; by everyone who is comfortable in their own skin as a Chicago Cubs fan.
If you’re ignoring this sentiment, or blatantly being dense and saying you won’t, you’re 100 percent lying to yourself.
Wishing my boy the best of luck w/ the NYY. Over the past 4 years Starlin & I formed a special bond you'll be missed pic.twitter.com/4XIsFr8q83
— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) December 9, 2015
We’ll miss his energy. His smile. His youthful exuberance. In the latter time as a Cub, we’ll miss his willingness to learn and be a good teammate amidst the toughest stretch of his young career.
Hell, professionally, I’ll miss his polarization. He always made for a good story—positive or negative.
Without a doubt, Castro was on a short list of Chicago’s most polarizing athletes—up there with the likes of Jay Cutler, Derrick Rose, and given recent developments, likely Patrick Kane.
Converse with any Chicago sports fan and your answers likely range from those four.
It’s what made Starlin Castro so interesting. It’s what drew us to him.
I still remember what I was doing when this happened:
And where I was when this happened:
And especially when this happened:
As a whole, Starlin Castro was largely under appreciated. People always intentionally chose to define him by the second of those three videos rather than the first or third. People have soon forgotten that for years—a solid three or four of them—he was the bright spot of the Chicago Cubs.
At the age of 21, he led Major League Baseball with 207 hits and made the All-Star Game. That’s a game he’s made three times by the age of 24.
He’s legit one of the few in-house prospects that actually panned out. He was the first one we saw pan out – long before Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, or Addison Russell did.
Starlin Castro will never not have a place in my heart. And I, like most of Cubs nation, will have a bittersweet feeling in our hearts come Opening Day 2016.
It’s going to be tough (and weird) not seeing Starlin out in the field or up at the plate as a Cub anymore. For as many times as he frustrated us, he made us smile just as much.
He made us cheer. He made us boo. And most importantly, he made us clap.
So now that we’ve finally reached Castro’s farewell – or La Despedida as they say in Spanish – there’s really only one thing that can be said with certainty.
You will be missed.