Just when you think the Strasburg Shutdown work is almost finished, you realize it’s only just begun.
Because we’re now at the point of the season where Robin Ficker, known worldwide as among the most prominent hecklers in NBA history, is planning a protest at Nats Park.
Yes, Ficker, the Maryland lawyer and frequent political candidate, is not happy with the Strasburg plan. And so he did what any fan might do: he printed up 500 legal-sized signs that read “Let Steve Decide” and plans to hand them out at Nats Park Tuesday evening. In smaller print, the signs encourage fans to call Mike Rizzo and register their thoughts on the matter. Yes, a phone number is provided.
Ficker, mind, is not advocating that Strasburg pitch indefinitely. He’s advocating that Strasburg be allowed to make the decision himself.
“All the other teams are rejoicing that Washington is letting someone who is third in the Major Leagues in strikeouts not play in the playoffs and World Series, and I think we should let Steve decide,” Ficker told me in a phone conversation. “He knows his body — he’s been in it longer than anyone. He knows how he feels. And I think he should make the decision, rather than have people outside his body make it for him.
“Every individual is different,” Ficker continued. “Every patient is different. You can’t say how one patient is going to react based on how other patients did. These folks who are trying to pressure him before the playoffs are nigh, I think they should let him make the decision. I’m confident that he’s so competitive and he knows his body well enough, he wouldn’t want to hurt himself but he would want to help the team win in a playoff situation that we might not be in again.”
Indeed, this is why Ficker — who gained national headlines for heckling Joe Maddon and receiving a signed ball earlier this season — is so passionate about the issue. He pointed to the fact that you’d have to be around 90 to remember Washington’s last World Series berth, that the Cardinals are struggling even to make the playoffs after winning last year’s World Series, that long-term success can’t be taken for granted.
“Here’s our chance,” Ficker said. “It’s already been 80-some years. If Strasburg can pitch 165 innings, it just seems logical, without being a doctor, that he can pitch 200. And if he can’t, I think he’s capable of telling us. I think it’s time for the fans to be heard on this, and I’m a fan. I’m gonna try to have my voice be heard, and I hope others do too.”
I told Ficker that, as near as I could tell, most Nats fans were comfortable letting the so-called experts make the decision on this matter.
“I think Steve is the expert on this thing,” he countered. “If fans disagree, it’s a free country. They’re entitled to voice their opinion, and I’m entitled to voice mine. And Steve’s entitled to voice his, and I think his opinion is being squelched. Everyone’s trying to create an opinion around him. I think people ought to listen to him more. Let him decide.”
Ficker plans to hand out the signs near the center field gate before Tuesday night’s game. Someone send me pictures please.
Stan Kasten and Jim Riggleman are in favor
Bill James says it’s a ‘reasonable’ approach
Rudy Giuliani opposes the shutdown
Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw weigh in
Mitch McConnell supports the plan
James Andrews says you can’t criticize the Nats
Mitch Williams calls the strategy “absolutely absurd”
Dennis Eckersley says the Nats have to pitch Strasburg
Rick Sutcliffe has a plan for Strasburg
Stephen A. Smith says it’s disgraceful
Kevin Millar asks the Nats to look Strasburg in the eyes
Jake Peavy says it blows his mind
Scott Boras on possible legal ramifications
Rob Dibble blasts Strasburg and Rizzo
Andrea Mitchell discusses Strasburg on MSNBC