Among the many unfortunate things about the way the Nats’ season ended: It provided absolutely no closure to the Strasburg debate.
The pro-shutdown camp could argue that Strasburg’s replacement in the Nats rotation — Ross Detwiler — was brilliant. The anti-shutdown camp could argue that Strasburg’s replacement as the No. 1 starter — Gio Gonzalez — was never dominant. The pro-shutdown camp could argue that Drew Storen would have been on the mound in game 5 with a two-run lead regardless. The anti-shutdown camp could argue that Edwin Jackson would never have seen the seventh inning in their alternate reality. The pro-shutdown camp could argue that Strasburg wouldn’t have roused the quiet bats in Games 1-4. The anti-shutdown camp could point out that the Nats gave up 32 runs in five games.
And on and on and on. And while that might be tedious, media-on-media violence is always fresh. So it was that Ken Rosenthal appeared on 106.7 The Fan on Friday afternoon, and got to talking all things Shutdown.
This passage came after Danny Rouhier sort of questioned whether the anonymous players Rosenthal quoted from the Nats clubhouse last week really said the things he said they said.
“What I wrote happened,” Rosenthal said. “Those guys said those things. Now, in certain cases I was asking. In the one case, the first quote – if we had Strasburg we’d be up 2-0 – that was not solicited. That was kind of just coming from the guy who I talked to, and I was even a little surprised to hear it. But that’s what I heard.
“And I’m around these guys, I have relationships with a lot of these guys. And frankly, at times, I think people locally have run from this issue. And The Washington Post, a newspaper I greatly respect — a newspaper I once really wanted to work for — they were unanimous on this issue. Now, I don’t know that I can find five people around the country who were unanimous on this issue. And yet, all their columnists, and their editorial board — and they were very proud of this — were unanimous: The Nats Are Correct. I have a real problem with that.”
Fred Hiatt vs. Rosenthal at high noon! Heck, Fred Hiatt and Scoop the WaPo Mascot Dog vs. Rosenthal and Cleatus the Robot at 12:01. You know you’d watch.
Rosenthal’s main point, truth be told, was one that I’ve increasingly heard from Nats fans in recent days: Whether Strasburg would have made a difference in that series or not, we don’t know. But we will always know that the team entered the 2012 postseason without a full deck, by its own choosing, and the season ended for baseball’s best team without a series win.
“The risk of this all along was not seizing every opportunity to take the best chance you could for the World Series this year,” Rosenthal said. “And this idea — and I know the Nationals believe it, and with good reason — but this idea that it’s gonna be great for the next several years? Uh, you don’t know that. The Texas Rangers thought they were gonna be great this year again. And look what happened to them.”
*Donald Trump tweet: “So much for Washington shutting down Strasburg- they deserved to lose.”
*John Kincade tweet: “Mike Rizzo refuses to acknowledge Strasburg mistake, like others in Washington will attempt to put blame on a You Tube video.”
*Dave Zirin column: “Rizzo, Boswell and all those who defended this decision should have the courage and the sense of shame to say that they were dead wrong. The true legacy of the Strasburg shutdown was shutting down an unforgettably beautiful season, leaving a legacy that tastes worse than chewing on dry aspirin. The arrogance of management and an unquestioning local media: it will get you every time.”
*John Feinstein column: “The Nats didn’t lose because Storen couldn’t get one more out. They lost because of hubris and stubbornness and the wrong person leading the decision-making.”
(Image in Sunday’s paper via @jfdulac. And personally, I find it weird as hell to see a news organization I’m a part of publicly thanking a team we cover.)