Well, ain't this a kick in the teeth? Sometimes you can do everything right, and have it all go wrong. That's the story of DC, and the story of baseball.
The Nationals managed everything perfectly. They limited his appearances in the minors, and never pushed Strasburg beyond his breaking point. He hasn't topped seven innings in the majors, and hasn't broken six since June. At the slightest hint of discomfort, they shut him down. (Think Rob Dibble feels like an ass about now?) No, this was no Dusty Baker style crime (though Strasburg's last appearance before his first DL stint was in Cincinnati...hmmm....)
If anyone's to be blamed, it's his college and high school coaches who let him keep on using his violent delivery, because it wouldn't be their problem for long. The human body's not supposed to throw a baseball overhand, let alone at 100 mph and with a curve that can look like it breaks twice.
This is how it works in baseball. Power pitchers are delicate little roses, things of beauty only because their mortality is assured. We rarely get more than a few years of them at their peak, so to prolong our enjoyment, we fire up the hype machine. Strasburg was mythologized for years before he put on a major league jersey, and now it'll be another couple years before he does it again.
But did it have to happen to Washington? On the day they learn baseball's best player is coming to town only to pal around with Glenn Beck, they lose the face of their franchise. Their basketball team's first superstar since, Juwan Howard I guess, decides to play with guns. Dan Snyder still runs the Redskins. One wag opined that the Caps should trade Ovechkin before a piano falls on him.
But let's not eulogize Strasburg. The way everyone's talking about him being cut down in his prime, you'd think this was another Sean Taylor. Strasburg's not dead. He's just injured. And it's a surgery that has a better than 90 percent recovery rate, and one that often lets pitchers come back stronger than before.
So wait until 2012, when Strasburg hits 114 on the radar gun. In the meantime, maybe Steve Phillips was right.
(photo via DeviantArt)