It hurts when the reality hits you that your year is over in professional sports. Unless you’re hoisting a trophy or a Cup over your head on that final day, it means you’re going home empty-handed for the most part. The most valuable things you take with you in those moments are the lessons from your mistakes, and your reflections. This is a sentiment not at all lost on Detroit Tigers’ Nicholas Castellanos, as he hung back in the Tigers’ dugout after Sunday’s season finale.
Considered a rebuilding team in 2016, just 2 years ago, Castellanos, along with the rest of the Tigers, watched as the Milwaukee Brewers saluted their fans. They had just shut out the Tigers 11-0 and were preparing to play for a division title.
“We’re not on that side,” Castellanos said afterwards, sharing some of those thoughts as he packed up his locker. “We don’t have a tomorrow. You’re frustrated when you’re on this side. It’s the last game of the season and music’s not playing, everything is quiet, so it’s not an environment that I’m happy in, but it’s the reality of the situation.”
Castellanos knows that the Tigers are still in full rebuild mode. He also knows that this is a long-term process; not one completed in a year or two. This means that Detroit could be looking at another year or two of badly-losing seasons before they can become contenders again. Between losing veteran talent in guys like Miguel Cabrera and unseasoned young players on the team, this result was inevitable. But this doesn’t take the sting out for competitors like Castellanos.
“As a competitor, you have the highest of expectations,” he said. “Shock the world, prove everybody wrong, make the haters eat their words.
“This proves that they’re right and you’re the one that’s wrong. It’s frustrating, but like I said, it is what it is.”
Castellanos becomes a free agent after next season, and with the possibility that the team could still be in rebuild at that point, his future with Detroit is definitely uncertain. The result becomes one of two things; do you ride it out with the team long-term and see the rebuild till the end? Or do you change tracks and find a future with a more winning team in the short-term? These are the kinds of questions all fans have on their minds as we move into 2019 and look forward to Spring Training.
Castellanos said it better than any of us, when reflecting on the feeling missing the post-season again:
“It is what it is.”