In the top of the first inning of a game that the St. Louis Cardinals would eventually win 4-3, the Cardinals had Matt Holliday on first base and Ryan Ludwick on third base with two outs.
When a pitch by Cubs’ starter Ryan Dempster ended up in the dirt, Holliday broke for second. Catcher Geovany Soto pounced on the ball and threw to shortstop Starlin Castro well ahead of Holliday. Knowing that he was going to be out, Holliday stayed in a rundown to try to give Ludwick a chance to score. Castro chased down Holliday until the last instant when he surprisingly turned and fired an off-balance strike to Soto to nail Ludwick at the plate. But the surprising part wasn’t that he made a perfect throw.
Since Castro has been at the Major League level, two things have been perfectly clear about him: he has talent and he’s stupid. The fact that Castro was able to make such an acrobatic throw came to nobody’s surprise, but I was shocked that Castro remembered there was another runner on base. After witnessing this miracle, I sat there hoping that this play was a sign of things to come for the 20-year-old rookie.
As it turned out, Castro took very little time to take away this hope.
In the bottom of the first inning, with Tyler Colvin on first base, Castro was up to bat. Before the first pitch, Castro called time by throwing his right hand up in the air. Anyone can tell you that’s not the proper way to call time: the batter should keep both hands on the bat and be prepared for the pitch in case time is not granted. And even though many other players call time in this fashion, they still keep themselves in a reasonable position to be ready for the pitch. Not Castro. He stood up straight out of his crouch, threw his right hand and waved it in umpire Bob Davidson’s face and looked away. Later in the same at-bat with a 3-1 count, Colvin was going on a hit-and-run. I don’t know if Castro missed a sign or if he’s just selfish, but he took strike two right down the middle and catcher Yadier Molina was able to cut down Colvin easily.
Castro called time so exaggeratedly on at least one other occasion in this game. You see, Castro has a sense of arrogance about himself. He knows he has talent and so he feels like he can order around the clubhouse staff for equipment or demand time from an umpire and automatically get it. Maybe this type of confidence is a good thing, but I would prefer that Castro develop this holier-than-thou attitude after having played in a little more than 68 Major League games.
But Castro’s biggest blunder was yet to come. He saves those for the extra innings. Standing at first base as the trail runner behind Colvin who was at second base, Castro didn’t seem to realize that the score was tied and so his run doesn’t mean anything. He also appeared to be unaware of Molina’s tendency to throw behind runners, which was evidenced by him bouncing wildly off of first base with each pitch. When Albert Pujols finally called for the pickoff play on the 1-1 pitch, Castro would’ve been out by at least three steps had Derrek Lee not fouled the pitch away.
At the beginning of his time at the Major League level, you wondered and hoped if these types of mistakes were because Castro is so young and that he will learn in the future. But at some point, we must also consider the possibility that Castro literally does not possess the intellectual capability to show a moderate deal of awareness on the field. I told my friend that this play confirmed that Castro is as dumb as a rock, only to hear him respond that even a rock knows when to stay put.
Of course, when ESPN is involved in a baseball game (or as we learned this summer, a soccer game), it always tries its hardest not to be outclassed on stupidity by anyone. During an in-game update (which happened in the eighth inning), ESPN pointed out that the Philadelphia Phillies had completed the sweep of the Colorado Rockies. Looks like ESPN has that crystal ball working: I better call my bookie and bet the house on the Phillies beating the Rockies on Monday. Then, in the ninth inning, we were told that the reason why closer Carlos Marmol has so many strikeouts was because his slider moves just enough to miss the barrel of the bat. Last time I checked, you don’t strike out 89 batters in 47 1/3 innings by pitching to contact.
But hey, what do I know? They’re the television experts.
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Written by Eddie Kim