Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Play of the Day: Starlin Becomes a Real Cub

You know how Yankees fans don't consider some of their best players "real Yankees" until they pass the clutch test a few times?  Alex Rodriguez was putting up unreal numbers when he arrived in New York, but a few high-pressure pop-ups or groundouts led to grumblings that he was not a real Yankee.  The same thing happened to Mark Teixiera and any number of other players who have worn the pinstripes in the Bronx.  To be a real Yankee, you better damn well hit a few walk-offs on national TV, or you are just a poser who doesn't deserve to wear the NY on the cap.

The Cubs have an opposite situation going.  New players can't really be considered part of the rich history of embarassingly bad baseball until they have that moment when they do something so off-the-charts ridiculous, you wouldn't believe it actually happened except for the fact that it happens all the time to the Chicago National League Ballclub.

Some players become real Cubs almost instantly.  Milton Bradley got ejected after striking out looking in his first at-bat of the season after returning from an injury he sustained in an at-bat in which he walked.  Here's your Cubbie patch, Milton.

Some Cubs take awhile to realize they are Cubs.  Mark Prior didn't become a real Cub until he injured himself plowing into Marcus Giles while running the bases.  Here's your Cubbie patch, Mark.

God bless him, Starlin Castro tried his damndest to hold off becoming a real Cub, but he became a Cub in his ninth inning at-bat against the Brewers on Tuesday.  The play started well enough.  He singled up the middle to drive in Mike Fontenot to bring the Cubs within one run.  He then saw a slight bobble in the outfield by Jim Edmonds and decided to try to stretch it into a double. 

That is when things went horribly wrong.  He ended up channeling his inner Theriot and stumbled as he tried to accelerate halfway between first and second, and he was caught.  He got run down and ended up being tagged for the second out as he tried to sprawl around Rickie Weeks.

Welcome to the club, Starlin!  You're a real Cub today!  Here's your Cubbie patch.

Someone kill me.


sitrick2 said...

Key differences:

Theriot: Old, slow, should know better, awful at baseball.

Castro: young, fast, probably doesn't know any better, good at baseball and getting better.

Aisle 424 said...

Sure, Castro's best Cub moments are ahead of him.

Ed Nickow said...

Didn't Castro earn a Cubbie patch after his 3-error performance during his Wrigley debut?

Aisle 424 said...

I tend to give rookies a pass on a few physical errors because they are learning on the job. Much like Yankee fans don't anoint a real Yankee until a player has a track record of clutch hits in big moments, I generally don't consider general mistakes as real Cub moments (or as Lou likes to call them Cubbie Occurences) until there is a real history in place (like say, Theriot's TOOTBLANS).

What set the play apart for me was the magnitude of the moment (in the game, not the season obviously) plus the mental lapse compounded by a baffling loss of all athletic grace and coordination.

Ed Nickow said...

I get it now ... anyone can make three errors in a game. But it take a real Chicago Cub to slip after rounding first with the game on the line.

Kinda like the difference between a caught stealing and a TOOTBLAN, eh?

Still ... I'd rather have Castro than Theriot at this point.

Aisle 424 said...

Technically, a caught stealing is a TOOTBLAN, but not all TOOTBLANS are caught stealings, but that is neither here nor there.

Also, I'm not saying I prefer Theriot or that Castro won't be a great player. Nevertheless Castro turning a play from one of clutch performance into a rally-killing, slapstick comedy of errors in the course of 3 seconds is a pure Cub moment.

Ed Nickow said...

According to Wrigleyville23, caught stealing and TOOTBLANS are separate factors in the RTAOBP.

The way I see it, if (for example) the runner gets a good jump but the catcher makes a great throw then kudos to the catcher but it doesn't make the runner a nincompoop.

But I agree with your last comment. It's moments like that which make one proud to be a Cubs fan ... or something like that.

Aisle 424 said...

Ah yes... I stand corrected. CS and TOOTBLANS are separate. Good call.

Yeah, I'm not sure proud is the word I would use either. Something like that though. We'll probably have to invent a word to accurately convey the feeling.

Anonymous said...

shades of kal daniels rounding third and heading for home...oops.

Aisle 424 said...

Kal Daniels... *facepalm*

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