When I was 10 years old, I played Little League Baseball at Thillens Stadium for a great coach named Wally Burns.
I donít know what happened to coach Burns, but I can tell you he taught me a lot about baseball for those two years. I was at second base my first year. I was just an OK hitter ó I probably weighed all of 80 pounds ó but my strength was picking up the ball.
When the next year came, coach Burns told me he was moving me to shortstop. I said I liked playing second, but he told me I was the best fielder and he needed me to play shortstop. He said he had faith I would practice hard and make every play at short because it was the most important regular position on the field.
What he was trying to say was that if you donít have a good shortstop, youíll never win.
The shortstop is your leader in the infield, heís the captain ó it doesnít matter what level you are playing at Little League, Pony League, 16-inch softball or the majors ó you wonít win without a good shortstop.
Now that Little League story brings me to the Chicago Cubs and Starlin Castro. As I watched a couple of Cub games over the weekend, I heard Castro took extra fielding practice, but it didnít make a difference as he still made 3 errors over the three-game weekend.
Manager Dale Sveum, who said the other day he doesnít care about public opinion anymore since ownership has his back, keeps putting Castro at short hoping the young man will get it right.
That seems unlikely as Castro is on a pace to make more than 30 errors this year. As long as Castro is at shortstop, I just donít think the Cubs will ever be successful.
I am still trying to figure what kind of manager Dale Sveum is, and marching Castro out there at short has me wondering.
Look, I donít know where you can play Castro, maybe outfield or third base, but at 24 years of age should he be getting worse instead of better?
The Cubsí centerpiece isnít consistent at fielding or hitting. Is he not physically capable of getting in front of the ball or is he just lazy?
If the Cubs are smart, they will give Castro a new address. The Cubs do have some good young talent ó first baseman Anthony Rizzo is part of their core ó but Castro just doesnít fit.
Look at your great teams and check their shortstops. Ozzie Smith with the St. Louis Cardinals, Louie Aparicio with the Chicago White Sox or Derek Jeter with the New York Yankees ó thereís a pattern. The winning teams have outstanding shortstops who can field. Thatís one thing the Cubs donít have and wonít until Castro is sent packing.
Catch me on ďMancowĒ on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Friday and Monday.
ü Mike Northís column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.