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Starlin Castro hopes to stay with the Cubs

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When the Cubs acquired top prospect shortstop Addison Russell from the Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel deal last month, many assumed that it likely signified the beginning of the end for Starlin Castro in Chicago. One potential destination is the Mets, who have a need for a shortstop and match up as a good trade partner for the Cubs since they have plenty of young pitching to offer. With the Cubs in Queens for a three-game series against the Mets this weekend, it’s only natural that Castro is being asked about the possibility, but he told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com that he hopes to stay with the Cubs.

“Of course I want to stay here,” Castro said. “I want to be part of the team when we make the playoffs and we have a good team that can compete every year.”

Castro politely listened to the New York reporter asking if he’s willing to change positions if that means staying in Chicago. The shortstop’s on track to post a career-high in fielding percentage (.977), while his errors have declined steadily across the last four seasons, from 29 to 27 to 22 to 12 so far this year.

“I think I showed a lot of people that I can be good at my position,” Castro said. “Again, I don’t have the control (over that). But I think a lot of people see – and a lot of people know – that I can handle that position.”

After regressing last season, Castro has bounced back this year by batting .286/.335/.429 with 12 home runs and 63 RBI over 121 games. He doesn’t turn 25 until next March and still has five years remaining on the seven-year, $60 million extension he signed with the Cubs in August of 2012. His contract also includes a club option for 2020.

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.