Baseball is something different to each and every one of us. To some of us, it’s a feeling of nostalgia for days gone by. For others it can be a kind of religious experience. While for yet more of us, baseball is a captivating game of cat and mouse, elements and statistics.
Most of us also forget that it is first and foremost a business.
If any one of us needed a reminder of that, we have our friendly tandem of Ted Lerner and Mike Rizzo in Washington to rekindle that memory.
For those of you who aren’t brushed up on your front office personnel, Lerner is the owner of the Washington Nationals, while Rizzo serves as the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. They are the team that has built and guided the current Washington Nationals club to a dismal 65-74 record, which currently places them a mighty 25 games out of first place and eliminated from post-season play as play turns into September. They are also the team that opted to replace a winning manager with a has-been, mid-season; all in the name of not having to extend the current manager’s contract and to show who the boss(es) really were.
Now, in their enlightened wisdom, they are opting to throw away the future of the franchise, one of the few things they have going for them, in favor of four large draws at the gates. Tonight marks the night where they are opting to have Stephen Strasburg make his first of four starts at the Major League level, after having sat out the last year recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Does anyone else see the error in their ways here?
Strasburg, a 23-year-old pitching phenom, is undoubtedly the most electric young arm in the league. He made 12 starts in 2010, striking out 92 over the course of 68 innings-pitched prior to hurting his arm. Now, just over a year removed from the Big TJ, the Nationals are rushing him back in hopes of keeping fans coming in despite the lackluster play of the rest of the club. They don’t see the bigger picture painted in front of them suggesting that they let him take his time, perhaps pitching in the Arizona Fall League at the end of the season, and being 100 percent for the start of the 2012 campaign.
Isn’t baseball history dotted with the lessons learned from overusing young arms like Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jake Peavy, Mark Fydrich, etc.? Does Washington feel the need to break from the Tampa Bay mold of hording young talent that they need to break it before it becomes useful?
The Nationals stand nothing to gain by throwing Strasburg back on the mound at this juncture of a lost season, aside from a few more clams on the barrelhead. On the other hand, they have everything to lose in the venture. For a team used to being on the losing side of things, you’d think they would see the writing on the wall.
After all, isn’t that the Nationals way?