The conventional wisdom on Stephen Strasburg's latest injury, whatever it is, was nicely summed up by Thomas Boswell on Monday:
Stephen Strasburg shouldn't just miss his next start. The Nats should shut him down for the year. Two warning lights in a month - first shoulder, then forearm - are enough. When an Indy car is running in the red, you may try to finish a race. You can get a new engine. But there's only one Jeezus arm. Don't wait for it to blow.
For the unconventional wisdom, look no further than Rob Dibble, analyst for MASN by night, and radio host for SIRIUS XM's MLB Network Radio by day. Working his day job on Monday, Dibble issued what surely has to be the most prominent public critique of Strasburg's toughness to date. This one will get the people talking.
"I'm not a doctor, and I haven't read the MRI yet, but I'm pretty sure he's gonna come back fine," Dibble said as the "First Pitch" discussion began. "And for me, if you can throw the next day, then you probably could have continued out there on the baseball field. So are they a little bit overcautious at this point? Maybe. But he's a $15 million investment. I absolutely can't blame them for taking him out.
"But here's the thing. If this was happening to this kid in college and you knew that, then you also knew that he can pitch through this stuff. So a little bit is, ok, let's see this kid pitch through it.
"I also look at this from the player's standpoint, that this is your job. This is what you do. You're never going to be 100 percent healthy, feel perfect. So you have to take accountability that you're gonna throw sometimes, your arm's gonna hurt. You're gonna be out there on the mound sometimes, the mound is gonna be terrible and the dirt is gonna be a little loose and it might not be so great. You can't constantly be complaining over every little thing.
"So for me, a little bit has to be put back on Strasbug here. Ok, you throw a pitch, it bothers your arm, and you immediately call out the manager and the trainer? Suck it up, kid. This is your profession. You chose to be a baseball player. You can't have the cavalry come in and save your butt every time you feel a little stiff shoulder, sore elbow.
"I mean, excuse me. There's guys I played with that had screws holding their elbows together. Chris Sabo played two weeks on a broken ankle. I put a steel plate in my wrist so I could be back in five weeks instead of three months. So, this is your choice. You can either suck it up and be a man at 22 making $2 million a year [with] a $15 million contract, or every time you get an ache and pain you can go out of the game and say I'm gonna let down the other 24 guys right here and possibly end up forfeiting the game."
This was before the Nats said anything official about Strasburg's follow-up MRI, or about putting him on the disabled list. This was also before they clarified Mike Rizzo's initial comments, which had incorrectly indicated that Strasburg threw on Sunday morning. And Dibble attributed part of the problem to the malady of the pampered and entitled "modern-day player." Still, Rob Dibble would clearly like Stephen Strasburg to fight through whatever arm pain he's experiencing.
"What Mike Rizzo and Jim Riggleman do, that's totally different," Dibble said. "They have to think of the long-term ramifications of what they're doing right now with this kid's career. As far as this kid? Stop crying, go out there and pitch. Period.
"There's so many [other] guys....Josh Willingham, who is gonna have surgery on his left knee, was playing with torn cartilage in his knee, could barely run around the bases. This is the simple answer to this, you need to know the difference between pain and injury. When I was 12, my arm hurt. When I was in my teens and I would throw and walk off the mound when I was a starter, my arm would throb. I couldn't even hold a glass of water. And you know what? I loved it.
"I was so sick, I loved it, 'cause I felt 'ok, I'm throwing hard enough to make my arm shake when I'm just standing there.' So I was a totally different animal than I think has been created here with Strasburg, where now you're telling this kid as soon as you feel any arm pain, call us and we'll come help you. Please.
"This is the major leagues. This is not college any more. You're not on scholarship. You're being paid to do the job and guys depend on you, and I think it's unfortunate that the Nationals and the team are in a situation here where this kid now, he feels any kind of arm pain, he's gonna call you out? That's scary to me."
And like I said, the discussion ended with Dibble lamenting the nature of the modern player.
"You give these guys $15 million bucks, please," he said. "Get your butt out there and play every fifth day."
UPDATE: Dibble responded to the criticism for his remarks on Tuesday morning. Via Federal Baseball:
"If you're hurt, you can't suck it up, so that's a moot point, but if you're not hurt, that's what I was talking about. If you're not hurt and your arm's fine, then keep pitching....Our opinions are formulated through facts, not fiction, not their little chat room jargon, and so they can try and twist it any way they want, and if a guy's hurt, he's hurt, he's going to go on the disabled list, it's a moot point. But if he's not hurt, get your butt out there and play....They're two totally different scenarios, so, you know, stick to what you know, which is nothing, and stick to your little blogs."
Duly sticking to my little blog, sir.