Bearing in mind that 50-most-powerful-anything lists are mostly just exercises in getting cheap page views, let me note that GQ’s 50 Most Powerful People in Washington list contains exactly one sports figure. His name is Stephen Strasburg.
Which is kind of weird. Because Strasburg isn’t the most popular or highest paid athlete in Washington. He doesn’t play for the team that attracts the biggest crowds or the best TV ratings. He’s never played in a playoff game, or really any game that matters. His name isn’t Ted Leonsis or Daniel Snyder or Ted Lerner, who are obviously the most powerful Washington sports figures in any list that isn’t just trying to be quirky.
The list — which excludes Obamas and Bidens — starts with names you’d expect: Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, . David Plouffe, Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Ben Bernanke, David Petraeus. At some point, the GQ folks got bored, so they added names like Ezra Klein, the Capital Weather Gang, Mike Allen, Jose Andres and Charles Krauthammer. And by No. 47, they were so bored, they wrote this:
He pitched twenty-four innings in five games this year. He had one win, one loss and was the most exciting pitcher in baseball. On the night that the young Nationals ace debuted in 2010 — fanning fourteen batters in seven innings, among the all-time great first starts in baseball history — DC’s heart swelled for the real-deal phenom with unreal stuff. And then it broke two months later when his elbow popped. The capital warily greeted his post-Tommy John surgery return, but as the 99-mph fastballs, freeze-frame change-ups, and close-shave curveballs flew, Washingtonians let themselves fall in love again.
I mean, I guess it sounds better than “He predicted an NFC East championship, sometimes brushed his hair, threw 25 interceptions, fumbled spontaneously, chucked it deep, and caused Washingtonians to allow themselves to fall in love with John Beck.” But I’m not sold that there are only 46 people in this town more powerful than Stephen Strasburg.
(Two years ago, Alex Ovechkin was named No. 48 on the list.)