Sure, the letter was probably crafted by a publicist. Sure, it was missing a dig at the various media members who so tarnished his image over the course of five years in Chicago. But Starlin Castro’s thank-you note to Chicago got me a bit feelsy nonetheless.
For me, though, the emotions are stirred less by what and how Castro “wrote” than by the finality this farewell represents. He’s really gone. I had lamented his departure in the immediate aftermath of the trade, but the void I felt was quickly filled with excitement over the additions of Ben Zobrist and, a few days later, Jason Heyward. I’ve been a big advocate over the years of viewing the Cubs as more of a business than just some flight of fancy, but that doesn’t mean all emotion is removed.
In fact, I will always view this team as a well from which I can draw emotional refreshment. And in those times when the golden bowl was broken, the pitcher was shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, I’ve simply jumped headlong into the waters and let them wash over me. That hasn’t always been easy. Starlin Castro knows a little something about making due, about going wanting and having to make the best of a bad situation. That’s all there in the letter, parts of which are excerpted below.
The Cubs fans were always so good to me, and I will never be able to thank them enough. When I got to Chicago, I was just a kid, trying to figure things out at a new job in a new city. When you’re new, you want to be approved of, and you want to belong. Those first big cheers I got at Wrigley are something that I will never forget. They helped me feel like I was doing something right — and they helped me feel like I was home.
Even when we were losing in Chicago during those first few years, it felt like we were working toward a larger goal. There were always coaches and veterans creating a sense that we were all in this together — and that the wins would come.
And the pride I felt about my own job had a lot to do with the pride I felt about what we were building as a team. I was a Cub when we lost 101 games in 2012. I played in every one of those games; I lived those 101 losses. For us to finally start winning was very satisfying to me. It didn’t matter if I was at shortstop, or second base, or watching from the bench. I would have been proud no matter what.
I’m 25 now. It’s been five years since that night in Cincinnati — when I was that kid from Double-A, racing to call his parents about the home run that he had just hit in his first at-bat as a big-leaguer. And while they haven’t all been home runs, I think I’ve grown up to become a smarter and better player. I have no idea what the next five years will bring … but I’m excited to find out.
To my new city, New York, I can promise you this: You are acquiring a player who just got to experience a pennant race for the first time — and loved it.
And to my old city, Chicago, I want to thank you for such an amazing experience. I’ll always hold Chicago close to my heart. And hey — maybe I’ll still visit sometime.
I can’t speak for Chicago, but as a duly appointed representative of a dozen or so Cubs fans, I would like to return those thanks to you, Starlin. While the business of baseball dictated that you continue your career in New York, I truly wanted to see you get the chance to experience the fullness of success in the city in which you had already experienced so much failure. Unless, you know, you really do come back to Chicago to play baseball in October.
We watched you grow up before our very eyes, but no sooner had you reached maturity than you were gone, a casualty of the business of baseball. But hey, we’ll always have the “Shhhh” meme, right? Here’s to hoping you find in New York the acceptance you never fully received in Chicago and that you do justice to the number 14.