Stephen Strasburg: Rizzo is right

Talkin’ baseball today. The best team in the MLB plays in the District of Columbia, in Southeast, just a rock-and-gravel plant removed from the Anacostia River. This isn’t yet a storied location like Fenway, or Wrigley, and the muscles of the city do not yet instinctively stretch in that direction every time the Nats take the field, but it is not inconceivable that we are witnessing the start of something special that could last for many years.

Naturally we brace for the worst. The certain collapse. The blown saves, the fielding errors, the hitters whiffing at fastballs thrown right down the pipe. Pitchers mysteriously losing command of the strike zone. The manager running off with a barmaid. The bat boy arrested for selling bath salts. We’ll know we’re in trouble when the team owners are caught using PEDs.

Or we could hope. We could believe! I choose to believe. I believe this is a very good team, built to last, if I may borrow someone’s campaign slogan.

Trace Hamilton is exactly right: You have to trust Nats GM Mike Rizzo’s judgment that the best thing for Stephen Strasburg’s future is an early end to his season.

Have you ever closely observed a major league pitcher? That ain’t a natural thing, that pitching motion. The arm does everything this side of contorting itself into a Mobius Strip. When I was a kid, playing Little League, pitchers were not allowed to throw curve balls because of the damage it would do to their developing arms. Well, Strasburg already blew out his elbow and has had to have it rebuilt with all manner of transplanted ligaments, plus duct tape and bunji cords. Like Tracee said, let’s let him have a career and believe that we can survive the end of the season and the post-season (crossing fingers on that) without him.

One of my favorite hobbies, perhaps my only hobby, is delving into the complicated stats at espn.com, where you will see that, going into tonight’s game, the Nats have the best pitching staff in baseball. (By a narrow margin, we should note.) Probe deeper, and you can discover not only a pitcher’s ERA but also the ratio of strikes to balls on afternoon games after a full moon. You can see how well he pitches when he’s hungry and how well when he’s feeling really full. You can learn if he has control problems when he forgets to chew sunflower seeds between innings.

Seriously you can spend on day in the stats, the way I used to spend all day in the stacks at the library. Studying the stats is a legitimate form of reading, so you don’t have to feel guilty about it. At the very least it’s a form of perusing. And it’s August. Perusing is a fine way to spend the day.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."
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