Starlin Castro Injured Because, Well, Cubs

While grammatically incorrect, I think the headline sums up the thought many of us had last night when we saw Starlin Castro slide awkwardly into home, his left cleat catching and rolling as he did so. Perhaps he’s been taking lessons from RGIII.

Or maybe if he had been hustling from the start, there’d have been no need to slide at all, right, Kap? Actually, contrary to the popular belief that Castro often imitates bread, he was busting it down the line and was looking to his teammate for guidance.

Despite the fact that the throw home was cut off, Welington Castillo, on deck after Jorge Soler’s sharp single drove Castro in, was exhorting his shortstop to get down. So while most accuse Starlin of being flaky, this time it was Beef.

That’d be all well and good if we were talking about a puff pastry-wrapped filet with two L’s, but it’s not necessarily an enviable trait in a backstop. Perhaps it was just a case of Wely’s questionable pitch-framing skills extending to his base coaching.

Okay, so maybe that’s overdoing it a bit. It’s not fair to lay the fault for Castro’s awful slide and subsequent ankle injury at the feet of his teammate and his poor advice. Where then do we lay the blame?

Some will point to Castro’s unwillingness or inability to adhere to the basic tenets of baseball fundamentals, but I’m going to lay that aside. And that’s not just because I’m a Starlin apologist either, though I am and will continue to be.

Oh, snap! Lucky Starlin didn’t do this.

No, I’ve had my own cleat-catching experience. While playing third base in an ultra-competitive co-ed softball league, a pop-up was hit into the shallow outfield. Knowing that I’d be unable to reach it by simply back-peddling, I turned to my left in pursuit.

But as I planted my left foot, my cleat bit into the the lip on the outfield grass, my foot rotating and torquing my fifth metatarsal. The pain was immediate white heat spreading through my foot and ankle; I tried valiantly to remain at the hot corner, but to no avail.

However, since skipping an at-bat meant taking an automatic out, I popped a couple Advil and iced the foot for a while before limping out to the box. I batted righty ( in order to keep weight off my left foot and promptly fouled out.

The painful limping continued through the next morning, as I convinced myself that wishing the wheel wasn’t broken would make it so. But as I’m wont to say, you can wish in one hand and s*#t in the other and see which one fills up quicker.

When it comes to the Cubs, I think that same kind of wishful thinking applies, as does its inverse. We constantly believe that the team can get better will get better, rationalizing even the worst moves.

Man, that Milton Bradley has got great patience at the plate and I think he’s really turned over a new behavioral leaf.

Boy, Theriot and Fontenot are a great little double play combo. I love those gritty little guys.

Edwin Jackson is going to be a great innings-eating workhorse.

Then again, we are a fanbase that has dealt with all manner of curses and caveats, with billy goats and scapegoats ranging from black cats to Bartman. At each new shortcoming, we throw up our hands in exasperation in the face of yet another “Cubby Occurrence.”

The presence of these seemingly-predestined happenings, sarcastically punctuated on Twitter with #Cubes, could easily be included alongside death and taxes as one of life’s inescapable inevitabilities.

Starlin Castro’s hot hitting of late had combined with the exploits of other young Cubs (a phrase that would probably drive a pedant crazy, or at least frustrate him…or her) to produce an unprecedented level of positive talk about the team, at least under the current regime.

Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara have been clubbing baseballs, and divisional opponents, like baby seals. Kris Bryant’s other-worldly minor league season gave hope of more to come.

So, like a PETA protest at an innocent cockfight, what took place with Castro at home plate last night really came as no surprise to a lot of us. I mean, for the sake of the metaphysical balance of the universe, something like this had to happen.

Javier Baez’s Golden Sombreros were not enough to dampen spirits, nor was Anthony Rizzo’s strained back. The Cubs had played winning baseball in August and people were starting to agree that more sustained success might be just around the corner.

So it figures that a God-forsaken grass gremlin would jump out and grab Castro as he tried to score. Hearts leapt into throats, fearing the worst, just knowing that it was a serious injury. This would probably be the dreaded high ankle sprain or perhaps even as catastrophic as a torn ACL.

But with initial word that the flubbed slide resulted in nothing worse than a garden-variety sprain, fears subsided. Of course, that’s pending the results of an MRI and some more X-rays. And it’s entirely possible that Castro will be shut down for the remainder of the season as a precautionary measure.

The fans who went into this season expecting the worst have been pleasantly surprised by the Cubs’ performance down the stretch. And while news of an injury is typically not received with happiness, that’s exactly what many felt after jumping to conclusions in the immediate aftermath of Castro’s injury.

With the young guys coming up and being as good as advertised, and even bad news somehow turning good, maybe the Cubs’ luck is finally starting to turn.

But on second thought, it’s probably best to just keep all the positivity over moral victories for the Cubs to a minimum. We don’t want karma realizing that it needs to catch up with them until it’s too late for it to do so.

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