Sports Briefs: A National Conspiracy

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Chris: I have long wanted to get intimate with Davey Johnson. From winning the World Series in 1986 with the Mets to leading the Reds and Orioles to the playoffs in the ‘90s, I want to deduce why he has gone through more jobs than Barbie. I can only assume that Johnson does not get along with his employers for one of two reasons: 1) The supernatural ability he possessed that allowed him to grow a vaudevillian mustache in the ‘80s still causes his contemporaries to harbor resentment, or 2) His one season spent playing baseball at Texas A&M soiled him. The Washington Nationals have the best record in baseball, and Johnson has celebrated this achievement by participating in shouting competitions with his employers over the handling of Stephen Strasburg.

Joe: The Nationals and Strasburg debate is one in which neither side wins. Let's just err on the side of caution, prolong a player's career and remember this is not about the team and the fans wanting to win a WS NOW!

Brad: Strasburg needed to take a rest and work on his strength so that this is his last season. I think it was a wise decision not only for him but for the team as well. I am not sure the timing of it was the greatest, though. Even though it was known about how many innings he would be playing, it still seemed to be a last minute, “oh by the way . . .” announcement.

Ralphie: I think it's a good idea. He's already injured, and continuing to pitch would only make it worse. I think they should have had him sit out more at the beginning of the season so that maybe he could have pitched in the playoffs.

Joe: If his innings or starts were limited, it takes the player out of his normal routine. Nevertheless, the greatest of race horses don't have to run on a schedule. They train and workout and are ready to go at anytime. Perhaps, had the Nationals taken this approach, he would have been good to go all the way.

Brad: That is a tough call. Had they limited his innings earlier, so that he would have some “banked” for playoffs etc., the Nats may not have made it this far. But had they limited him earlier and they still made it, then he would get to experience the remaining games on the diamond and not from the dugout.

Chris: I’m on a type count right now. In order to thwart carpal tunnel and prevent buildup of those fingerprint residue smudges on my keyboard, I am limiting my keystrokes. I should be able to finish this column, though.

Joe: The Nationals are leading the division by 8.5 games. No reason to believe that they will fold.

Ralphie: I think they'll do OK, but I wish I could have seen him play in the playoffs. I think they would have done better with him.

Brad: John Lannan has some shoes to fill for sure, but I doubt Johnson would have put him in at this point in the season, expecting him to bomb. He is probably up to the task.

Joe: If Strasburg were still pitching, probably wouldn't change the final numbers, but remember he looked bad in his last two starts before they pulled the plug one game earlier than predicted.

Brad: He would have pushed and gone possibly beyond his post surgery abilities and could have permanently damaged his arm, and the Nats could fail miserably.

Chris: I’m considering hiring a private investigator to determine whose decision it was to perform lobotomies on all Nationals players, employees and administration. Strasburg has said he still wants to pitch. His doctor and the team’s general manager, Mike Rizzo, have denied hiding his glove and uniform. Johnson did admit it was his decision, though if that’s the case, one can only assume his prior disagreements with his employers were centered around the nature of Rizzo's relationship with Gonzo.

Joe: I don't blame anyone for the Strasburg situation. I applaud the management for protecting a player and his career above the need for instant gratification. What's the saying, "it’s a marathon, not a sprint."

Ralphie: It's his arm, and he should have spoken up if he was hurting. I think the fault is really his. The managers and owners aren't there to babysit him, and he should have taken better care of himself.

Brad: There really isn't anyone to blame. He is part of a team, and sometimes the best for the team is to step aside and let someone else try. I think he has played a great season and hopefully recuperates and comes back full on next season. But like I said, it may have been nice to have limited him early on so that we could have seen him in some playoff games.

Chris: I feel very confident that the Nationals, regardless of whether Strasburg pitched or not, will either lose in the opening round of the playoffs or make it all the way to the World Series, where they will come from an 0-3 series deficit to beat the Texas Rangers. And Johnson will get fired.

Try on a new pair of Sports Briefs with the Gab Four every Friday. Find out more about Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie, and read their solo columns on their individual pages.


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