Tony Kornheiser: Stephen Strasburg is ‘a hothouse plant’


(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

I know every objection you could possibly raise to a transcription of Tony Kornheiser’s slightly critical comments about Stephen Strasburg earlier this week, but … actually, I dunno what else to say. I felt like doing this? Sorry?

“I want to talk about Stephen Strasburg,” Kornheiser said this week.

Here’s the context. He watched Gio Gonzalez, despite an elevated pitch count, cruise through six scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over the Marlins this week. And I guess that made him again wonder who the ace of this staff might be.

“It is presumed that Stephen Strasburg is going to win the Cy Young Award 15 times in his career,” Kornheiser said on his ESPN 980 program. “Ever since Stephen Strasburg was signed, everybody says the same thing about Stephen Strasburg: he’s so great. Tim Kurkjian gets on this show, Richard Justice gets on this show, there’s no point in having Boz, because he’s going to say the same thing: how great Stephen Strasburg is, what a talent Stephen Strasburg is, it’s inevitable that Stephen Strasburg will become the greatest pitcher in baseball.

“Has anybody seen this happen yet?” Kornheiser asked. “I know he took a year off because he had Tommy John surgery, I know he’s had great ERAs. But he has he ever been in the circumstance that Gio Gonzalez was in, where he, after winning 21 games, was a legitimate Cy Young candidate? Has he been in the circumstance that Jordan Zimmermann was in after winning [19] last year, a legitimate Cy Young candidate? Has he had that, or has it always been promise? Has it always been well yeah, it was a rocky first inning, but after that wasn’t he great? He struck out 11 in the next five innings – yeah, he allowed a three-run homer – but there’s gonna come a time where he’s the greatest player of all time.

“He’s been here four or five years; please don’t tell me you have a sense of his personality,” Kornheiser said. “Don’t tell me that, because you don’t. You don’t know anything about him, and he wants it that way. He keeps all of us at a large distance….His choice. He doesn’t do interviews. And at some point, you’re going to have to come to this realization: that Stephen Strasburg is a hothouse plant. That’s what he is. He’s this gorgeous orchid that blooms far away from where you can see it. …

“That’s what he is so far,” Kornheiser said. “You gonna bank the future on him? I wouldn’t do that. You may not have to trade him; he may just go. He may not sign another contract and he may go. He may want to live somewhere else. I think that’s possible. He certainly doesn’t seem to have, at least publicly, embraced the Washington area.”

The thing is, I get the sense that some fans increasingly agree with Kornheiser about this one player. At least until he throws a one-hitter, anyhow.

Also, this passage happened.

“The other day Ryan Zimmerman made the first or second or third of his anticipated 7,000 throwing errors and Strasburg went to pieces,” Kornheiser said. “Gave up a run-producing hit to a pitcher. Last year he wound up 8-9 with a great ERA. Great ERA, great opposing batting average. Does he win games? Does Alexander Ovechkin win games, put you in position to get in the playoffs and win a championship? Robert Griffin III, very small sample size. Great, great in his first year. Not so great in his second year. Now that he has his own logo…”

[Transcript ended due to the electric cattle prodding I just received directly from your brain]

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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