It didn’t have to be this way. That is the fault of the Nationals, not the media, even though Johnson pointed the finger squarely at us. “I’m a firm believer that this game is 99 percent mental,” Johnson said, according to MLB.com. “He is only human. I don’t how anybody can be . . . mentally concentrating on the job at hand with the media hype to this thing.”
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo could have mitigated the controversy by being more flexible in his planning and less strident in his public remarks. Why not start Strasburg’s season in May or June, or back him off at different times during the year, so he could contribute down the stretch? Why not recalibrate the innings limit when it became clear that the Nationals had a legitimate chance to win the World Series sooner than expected?
Instead, Rizzo and the Nationals stuck to a plan rooted in dogma, not hard science. No one knows if capping Strasburg’s season at 159 1/3 innings will save his arm, just as no one knows if the shutdown will affect Strasburg’s confidence or psyche by the time he throws his next meaningful pitch seven months from now.
Johnson said it himself: Baseball is “99 percent mental.” Yet the Nationals are handling Strasburg based on a physical/statistical metric. Seems incongruous, doesn’t it? Did the Nationals calculate the injury risk associated with the mental stress and lack of sleep that we now know resulted from the innings limit?
Posted: September 08, 2012 at 03:52 PM | 34 comment(s)
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