Castro is wildly inconsistent but possesses great talent, which made him a bit of a "love 'em or hate 'em" type in the Windy City. He set a rookie record by driving in 6 runs in his first MLB game and, as such, the expectations set for him were never really fair. Still, he lead the league in hits (207) in his second campaign, was a 3x All-Star and managed to knock out almost 1,000 hits in his 6 years here. He's no slouch.
6 RBI, 6 years in Chicago.... hmmmm.... in honor of this new beginning, let's take a look at my top 6 favorite Starlin Castro cards currently residing in my collection. Everybody does top 5 and top 10 lists, so I'm going to be all different and eccentric and such.
Without further ado, let's start counting.
#6 - 2013 Panini Triple Play, No. 13
I know you think I've lost my mind already. This card is horrific, nightmare inducing and... you've all probably left to go throw up and rinse out your eyes... I'll wait.
Anyway, that's exactly why I love this card - it's so awful that it god-awfully awesome. It's cards like this one that probably put the nail in the coffin for this set, too many lawsuits about children gauging out their own eyes.
Bonus points for it being card no. 13, which was Starlin's jersey number here on the Northside.
#5 - 2010 Bowman Prospects, No. BP100
This was Starlin's second mass-produced baseball card his first to pass into my binders. He may have been a prospect when this card went to the presses, but by May of that season he was the starting shortstop for Chicago. It being my oldest card of him is enough for it to make this list alone; admittedly, there's nothing else particularly notable about this card.
This card gets bonus points for the chain-link fence cameo in the background; you don't see too much of that with cards of professional baseball players, do you?
#4 - 2015 Topps Heritage (DP Combo), No. 156
This card is symbolic - it represents the log jam that made his departure almost necessary for the team. By all accounts, he was the third best defensive middle infielder on the squad, behind his high-five partner Javy Baez and Addy Russell. While they might have briefly been a DP combo late in 2014, Castro was soon surpassed by both Baez and then Russell on the depth chart for SS.
This card gets points because I love symbolism and bonus points for the Ricky Renteria cameo right in the middle. Ricky never did get a Cubs card and, for that, I am sad.
#3 - 2012 Topps 1987 Minis, No. TM47
I started collecting baseball cards in the early to mid 90's, so there were a lot of '87 Topps floating around (ok, there still are A LOT). My collection had more than it's fair share of these wood-grained call-backs to 1962. The nostalgia is strong with this card; plus, I have a healthy love for wood-finishing when it comes to trading cards and furniture. Not even the fact that it's a mini can ruin this card for me.
The bonus tallies for this bad boy are earned by prominently displaying his proper knee-high socks, a look that just screams baseball to me.
#2 - 2011 Topps Lineage Diamond Anniv. Refractors, No. 136
OOOOO... shiny! I don't have many refractors in my collection, despite my fascination with shiny objects. I don't normally seek out parallels and I almost never pull them with a Cub as the subject. So, with it being fairly unique to my collection, it was definitely going to make my list; the only question was where.
Additionally, I think the lineage design was highly underrated and I wish it would have lasted longer. It's always reminded me of the graphics from a baseball video game like MLB Showdown or the Show or what have you. So, ummmm, bonus points for that.
And now the moment you've all been waiting for folks; certainly the anticipation is palpable out there in the blogosphere. Are you ready for this?
#1 - 2015 Topps Opening Day Franchise Flashback, No. FF17
It seems appropriate that an insert that shines the spotlight on the past should take the first spot in a retrospective countdown, doesn't it? I love throwback jerseys, you love throwback jerseys, everybody loves throwback jerseys - as evidenced by the plethora trotted out every year. It's about damn time a set was centered around the phenomenon.
While the design of the cards clearly evoke a 1970's vibe, Starlin is sporting a look from a decade previous. That right there is the 1964 road outfit, a look I am very much fond of. The Cubs dusted these off for a tilt in Philadelphia, honoring the 50th anniversary of Jim Bunning's perfecto, a game which I missed attending by one measly day. Drat.
Anywho, the red piping on the front and on the blue lettering really makes for a slick look on the gray faux-wool top. I'm not going to lie, the reason that this card takes the number one spot is because A) it might be my favorite Cubs uniform ever (road, at least) and B) I love the concept of the insert. Honestly, Starlin is playing third-banana here, not even second.
Spotlight stolen on his own countdown - sorry Starlin!
There you have it, my top 6 Starlin Castro cards in honor of his 6 seasons wearing Cubbie blue. It's been a wild ride for him, with some big time highs and some lowly lows in 2015 alone. Here's hoping that he finally is able to lay down some consistent success playing second base for the Bronx Bombers. I imagine that Yankee Stadium will assist his power numbers immensely.
Peace out Starlin Darlin'