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Darlin’, Indeed

Starlin Castro’s first night in the big leagues set his already lofty expectations at a new high for me.

After the embarrassment in Pittsburgh, I was ready to write the season off. I’m an optimist, and I will root for my Cubs to the very end, but a 10-run loss to complete a sweep at the hands of a perennial doormat didn’t do much to give me confidence that this club was going to give me much reason to cheer late in the season. The team simply didn’t appear to care in that game…and if they didn’t care, I figured, why should I? So, I’d begun the process of emotionally extracting myself from 2010. Then the Shortstop Jesus got the call.

I’ll say this about Starlin Castro’s expectations for the early part of his career: they were unfair. Spring training’s talks about him coming in, taking over the starting SS job at 19-20, being a huge piece to the puzzle for this season…all seemed like too big a job for someone who was born when I was in the third grade. I’ve seen the Pie and Pattersons of the world touted in the same way, and seen them never reach a sliver of the potential they supposedly had; never come close to matching expectations placed on them in a Cubs uniform. Everyone assumed Castro was different…his skills, his maturity, his dang smile…they all just pointed to big league success right from the start.

I was relieved to see him begin the year in the minors, though, because those other guys were needlessly rushed in. Some time to develop his game in AA seemed like a great idea. But the kid kept hitting. And kept hitting. And the Cubs kept losing. And kept losing. And, in the process, losing my emotional investment.

Dictionary.com defines ‘darling’ as “very dear; dearly loved; favorite; cherished”, and that’s exactly where Darlin’ Starlin put the Cubs, and himself, back into my heart once again. His performance last night more than exceeded expectations for himself, and renewed my expectations for this team. His play seemed to elevate everyone around him, and made my following-along-on-text-score-updates-alone self absolutely giddy.

I know it was one game, and that you can’t make too much of just one game’s performance. I remember Tuffy’s first game, too. But there’s just something about this kid that screams ‘he’s different’, that says he’s not only going to be around for a long time, but going to be a difference-maker for as long as he’s here.

I know he’s made a believer out of me…in himself, and once again, this team.


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