Last year in a game against the Phillies near the end of August, Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg, a budding superstar with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings, hurt his arm. MASN analyst and former big leagues pitcher Rob Dibble told him to “suck it up” and do his job. No player is ever 100% healthy, and Strasburg should’ve just went out and pitched again the next night. Stras got checked out and found out he needed elbow surgery, and poof, just like that, he was gone.
Fast forward nearly a year, to the news that Stephen Strasburg will start on Sunday for the Class A Hagerstown Suns, the next major step in a rehabilitation that could see him pitch in Washington in September. Strasburg’s recovery has been going ahead of schedule, and all things considered you could say he was “sucking it up”. So Rob Dibble should be happy, right? Dibble never had a vendetta against the kid, he just disagreed with the situation and maybe misinterpreted some data.
“There’s absolutely no reason, other than to sell tickets and to put butts in the seats to bring Stephen Strasburg back, to make a few starts at the end of the season. He’s too valuable. He’s too talented to even think about stuff like that. But in their case, you know, having worked with those people, the only thing I can say is that there are some people there that think they invented the game of baseball. Which they did not.
“And so they think they can do things differently than 29 other teams in the game. That’s the problem I had when I was working there, and now, even when I’ve been working on this channel for the last seven years. It’s pretty simple stuff. You want guys to play 15-20 years, you don’t need to rush a guy back just to get a couple starts in so you can sell out the stadium and stuff like that. You know, they’ve been talking about 2012, and what kind of team they’re gonna have in 2012 and stuff like that. And you know, if that’s the case, and you don’t want to put a Bryce Harper in the major leagues until you think he’s ready, there’s really no point in rushing this kid back just to get a couple starts out of him for this year.”
Two major talking points, here:
1. Rob Dibble thinks Stephen Strasburg is a wimp for not playing through an injury that required surgery, but thinks the Nationals are bringing him back too fast and exploiting him after a year of recovery? You’ve got to pick one side of the other, Rob, you’re too fat to ride the fence.
2. Here’s some easy-to-find information that gets shared by regular sports fans who don’t get paid to analyze baseball in the comments section of any sports blog: Josh Johnson had Tommy John surgery in August of 2007 and returned in July of 2008. Chris Carpenter came back in 12 months. Tim Hudson managed it in 13. Edison Volquez did it in 11. We’re at 11 1/2 months for Strasburg now, so doesn’t that put him right alongside everyone else? It’s not like the Nationals tried to bring him back in April.
As someone who gets paid to analyze baseball terribly, here’s my analysis: I hope Strasburg breezes through his rehab starts, because I want to see the Astros swinging at that video game curveball.