Certain decisions are so historically monumental that they will be debated until the end of human existence. Hannibal’s decision to cross the Alps. Thomas Jefferson’s decision to expand westward via the Louisiana Purchase. Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. Mike Shanahan’s decision to play RGIII against the Seahawks.
So it is that, four months later, we’re still hearing from new voices on this matter, including one Davey Johnson. This comes from an Orlando Sentinel piece on Johnson, which was published last week but which I’m only just seeing now.
Doctors had performed Tommy John surgery to repair Strasburg’s right elbow in 2010 and he was on a two-year recovery plan that limited the number of innings he would pitch. Strasburg was scheduled for the shutdown before the postseason even as the Nationals held the best record in baseball a 6 -game NL East lead..
The Nationals also had what Davey Johnson always has been in full supply of — conviction.
Protect the player. Do what’s best for today with an eye on tomorrow, Davey told himself before pulling the controversial plug early on Strasburg’s season.
“The doctors made a decision, which I agreed with. You do what’s best for today with an eye on tomorrow. Look at RG3. They shouldn’t have played him because they weren’t looking at tomorrow. They were looking only at today,” Johnson said, referring to the re-injury of Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III’s knee in a playoff game against Seattle. “Did I want to keep [Strasburg] in? Of course.”
Now, a great many media types made this comparison explicitly in January, in the days immediately after the Redskins lost to Seattle.
Mike Rizzo and Mike Shanahan, Boz wrote, “both live by their eye. They know what to look for and trust what they see. What others miss doesn’t escape them. In recent months, both faced an ethical crisis. What their eyes saw, or should have seen, was obvious. Would they have the wisdom as team-builders, the moral courage as leaders or perhaps just the decency as men, to act on it? One did. One didn’t.”
Of course, it’s one thing for a columnist to write that in January. It’s another thing for a baseball manager to suggest the same argument several months later. The paper also got Ian Desmond to chime in, although the shortstop didn’t mention any quarterbacks.
“I guarantee you 15, 20 years from now when Stephen is looking back, he’s gonna realize how awesome it was to have his employer say, ‘Hey we’re gonna do this for your best interest,’” Desmond said. “A lot of people said we could have gone to the World Series but anytime you put a player’s health over any accolade like that, that’s first-class. And that’s what this organization has turned into.”