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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, October 13, 2014


I am extremely happy that the Washington Nationals got drummed out of the NL playoffs early, and for as long as Stephen Strasburg is playing baseball, I want for them never to advance to the World Series.

Stephen Strasburg himself?  If he goes to another team in a trade or free agency, he can win all the World Series rings he wants.  Just none with the Nationals.


So two years ago, the Nationals has Stephen Strasburg on an innings limit because he was recoving from Tommy John surgery, and when the Nationals advanced to the playoffs, they refused to let Stephen Strasburg pitch because of this innings limit.  This was a controversial decision, and a decision that I disagreed with strenuously.

It's not that I am opposed to any innings limits for pitchers.  My 16-year-old nephew has been playing a lot of baseball in both spring and fall leagues from Little League on.  I've never noticed my brother to be one of those fathers who wants for his son to win at all costs, but such fathers exist.  And there are coaches who don't care about the kids and make coaching kids all about them.  And there are kids who need to be protected from themselves, just like there are NFL players who need to be protected from going back out onto the field with a concussion.  In fact, there should probably be stricter limits on kids playing baseball than there are, since it's so much easier now than was once the case for a kid to do baseball, baseball and more baseball twelve months a year with spring little league leading into summer travel league leading into fall league.   Everything in moderation, and the arms of young growing teenagers ought to be taken care of.

But when it comes to Major League pitchers, teams have all sorts of policies about how to take care of their pitchers, but there's no actual evidence that any of these things work.  It's not like the Nationals went all out with Strasburg before his injury, but there he is having Tommy John surgery in 2011, and that's hardly unique in the sport.

And most Major League players will tell you that they play to win the World Series.  And to earn money, of course, but winning the World Series is right up there.

If there was actual evidence to show that Stephen Strasburg needed to be protected from himself or from his manager over-working him -- shut him down.  If the Nationals aren't in the playoffs -- shut him down.  If you aren't comfortable with the risk, then don't undertake when the reward isn't there.

But the Nationals were in the playoffs, playing to get to and win the World Series.  And you never know what tomorrow will bring.  Look at the Nationals.  After their big 2012, they went nowhere in 2013.  And after their big regular season in 2014, they went nowhere in the playoffs.  Part of their bad 2013 was that everyone was going on the DL.  At least 7 Nationals pitchers went on the DL in 2013, and then hardly any went on the DL in 2014.  That happens a lot in baseball.  Teams have good and bad years for injuries.

But nobody actually knows how to protect pitchers in the Major Leagues from injuring their arms.   Yes, the Nationals GM said loud and long that anyone who was criticizing his decision in 2012 just didn't know the facts and the evidence, but if the Nationals know so much, how did they end up putting so many pitchers on the DL in 2013?  The Nationals  should've given Strasburg the chance at his World Series ring in 2012.  I'd love for Strasburg to win a World Series ring, just not with the Nationals.

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