Latest Incident Another Chapter in the Divisive Narrative of Starlin Castro

I just wrote about this earlier this afternoon, but I felt there was a bit more to discuss. So at the risk of beating a dead horse, I wanted to take a quick look at Starlin Castro and the coverage/discussion of the recent incident in the Dominican to which his name was tied.

According to Paul Sullivan and Gregory Pratt of the Chicago Tribune, police spokesman Jacobo Mateo said police searched Castro’s home early Saturday morning and detained him, but he since has been released.

But Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said that Castro proactively “went to the police to make sure they knew he wasn’t involved.”

The AP reported that police are investigating allegations that the shooting occurred after an argument between Castro’s brother and an assistant of a government official, but Kinzer claims Castro “just heard there was a fight and just left through the back door to go to his car.”

It’s entirely possible that Starlin and his brother just happened to be in the same club but were unaware of one another’s goings-on. To that end, perhaps the Cubs shortstop really did have no idea that the hubbub at the club involved his blood, and exited stage left without regard for his sibling.

I’m sorry if I sound a little skeptical because I don’t mean to implicate Castro in the incident. Rather, I’m calling into question the tactics of his agent, who’s insistence on a story that runs counter to what’s being reported may actually do more harm than good.

But perhaps I’m just a hardened cynic who can’t find a plausible reason for someone to immediately profess his lack of involvement in a nascent investigation. What can I say, Shaggy and Rik Rok had a profound impact on my jaded Weltanschauung.

I know, I know, the agent’s job is to get out in front of things and spin them in his client’s favor. But I feel about this just like I did about Tom Ricketts preseason pronouncement that the Cubs could be a playoff team this year.

Like Ricketts, I believe Kinzer to be a duplicitous turd-polisher who’d be better served to craft a more accurate tale. I was taken to task for my stance on Ricketts, and I don’t doubt the same will be true of my feelings about Castro’s agent. I just don’t agree with the tack either man took.

But what’s Ricketts supposed to say Evan, that the Cubs suck and have no chance at the playoffs? And is Kinzer just supposed to say that his client is a terrible decision-maker? As to the first question, no. The Cubs owner could easily have said that his team was clearly moving forward and that improvements would continue to take place.

Likewise, Kinser could have simply acknowledged the situation and said that Castro was cooperating but was not suspected of direct involvement. Forgive me if I’ve built a small mountain out of a molehill, but stuff like this just sticks in my craw.

As a parent, I often find myself in a situation where I know my kids are lying to me. I have tried over and over to explain to them that it’s the lie more than the actual act about which they’re lying that is going to get them in trouble. Likewise, if Kinzer is fibbing a bit about his client’s motives or actions, it’ll only make things worse.

In the discussion of this incident, I can’t help but see parallels to the way we view the rest of Castro’s career. He’s either a phenom hitting machine or a kid who just got lucky until pitchers got a book on him (never mind that it took three years). He’s a free swinger or he’s a fantastic contact hitter.

Castro is either lazy or he’s just never been pushed. He’s either young and immature or he’s old enough to do better. While some say he can still get better, others say he’s peaked. He could be the best shortstop in the majors under the age of 30 or he could be a mirage that needs to be traded away for whatever package some unfortunate team is willing to give up.

The truth is probably somewhere in between, amidst the dueling narratives of apologists and detractors. By all accounts, Starlin is a good guy; about that there seems to be no debate. But as Kinser said, “He’s such a good kid, but I told him, your name keeps getting tied to this stuff, it doesn’t matter. You look like a rap star with a posse.”

Setting aside the inherent stereotypes in that comment, Kinzer’s got a point. Perception is reality, but Castro has long been viewed through two different lenses, his story written in two completely different fonts.

There may come a time when Castro’s dual nature finally comes together, when we all just accept the inevitability of bifocals and eschew Helvetica and Calibri for Times New Roman. But for that to happen, Castro himself needs to be the catalyst.

Perhaps that can only come with him on another team, when Cubs fans are all more removed from the situation. Now that my son has outgrown his shirsey, I do find that a slightly more amenable option than I would have a year ago.

I’m in the apologist camp, though, cheering like hell for this kid to get his head on straight and live up to the lofty, and at times unfair, expectations that he established on May 7, 2010 in Cincinnati. Maybe I need to be the first one to cast aside my rose-colored glasses in favor of a more practical pair.

At the same time, I’d like to see some folks roll up their Jump to Conclusions mats and throw them back in the attic next to the Fukudome bandanas and oversized Harry Caray glasses. But I’d also like to see Starlin realize both his once-limitless potential and the fact that he may have outgrown Montecristi.

My understanding is that he had already planned to leave the Dominican in early January, but maybe he can get a head start on that New Year’s resolution. In fact, I think that’s a good idea for all of us. No excuses, no condemnation, just patience. A few more trips to the gym probably wouldn’t hurt either.

Despite the dearth of baseball news at this point, I’d urge restraint and open minds as this situation plays out. The good news is that the Bears will be there to take your minds off of it. Wait…bad example. Well, only 55 days until pitchers and catchers report!

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