- Support for stricter gun laws drops: poll
- 10 whales dead, 41 others stranded in Everglades
- John Boehner faces bipartisan pressure to allow gay-rights vote
- Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC over ‘ill-judged’ comments about Sarah Palin
- Rep. Duncan Hunter: While Obama prays for Iranian change, U.S. should ready its nukes
- Best company ever? Veteran Beer Co. exists to employ vets, provide quality beer
- Iran official: Sanctions ‘utterly failed’ to stop nuclear program
- ‘Black Santa’ display at IU sparks student outrage
- Joint Chiefs chair Dempsey: Pentagon, VA too slow in merging medical systems
- Sen. Ben Cardin hits Ukraine for crackdown on Kiev protests
FENNO: Stop with the panic and start enjoying Stephen Strasburg for his ability
Question of the Day
Little arouses the anxieties of red cap-wearing Washingtonians more than the sight of Stephen Strasburg shaking his right arm.
The last pitch the Nationals right-hander threw in Atlanta on Monday night touched 98 miles per hour. But that wasn’t enough — oh, not even close — to quell the wave of near-panic over his pitching arm’s health.
All thanks to a couple of those barely noticeable arm shakes during the six-inning outing during which his fastball command wavered and manager Davey Johnson offering the possibility of — gasp — forearm tightness. That was enough to unleash a wave of unease, as if the city faced a few inches of snow or, gulp, Robert Griffin III’s ongoing right knee rehabilitation somehow fell short of superhuman.
The explanation pointed to an electrical impulse machine irritating a nerve in Strasburg’s forearm, hardly the stuff of catastrophic arm injuries. The city, for the moment, can exhale. Strasburg’s arm remains attached to his body and, if the Monday outing that caused such consternation is any indication, still capable of zinging upper-90s fastballs during his scheduled start Saturday in Pittsburgh.
That didn’t brush aside the fear that lurks behind each pitch, fear that points to the blown-out arms of onetime phenoms like Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, fear that doesn’t forget that awful instant back in August 2010 when Strasburg threw a change-up and something popped inside his right elbow.
That was the last time many folks saw Strasburg shaking his arm (though, if you watch closely, the movement has cropped up from time to time since he returned to the mound in 2011).
But each jiggle of his arm revives the creeping fear, founded or fallacy, that all this could happen again.
Strasburg has put the Tommy John surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow behind him, but, really, the rest of us haven’t. Other than Griffin’s knee, there’s not a more studied, discussed or fretted-about joint in Washington.
There isn’t a middle ground for Strasburg. Each pitch has to be perfect. If not, questions follow about what’s wrong with him because, well, something must be if he surrenders a handful of hits or walks a few batters. His average fastball velocity sits at 95.7 mph, according to FanGraphs, a hair below last season, and his strikeouts per nine innings dipped from 11.1 to 8.7. Strasburg is also just six starts into his second full season in the big leagues, 51 starts in all, which is easy to forget for an athlete who seems to have been around much longer than he has.
Struggle, even a game’s worth, comes as a sort of shock that, yes, the generational talent is all too human.
He’s also a pitcher. And therein lies the problem.
Throwing a baseball isn’t natural. Sure, Strasburg can do so much better than better than 99.9 percent of the general population. But he’s dogged by the same risk as any pitcher that, at some point, the whole unnatural, mesmerizing, whiff-inducing motion will, once again, damage his arm. The microscopic tears from each routine pitch will accumulate and, one day, another pop.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- FENNO: No obvious answer for Redskins in determining Mike Shanahan's fate
- FENNO: After another loss, Redskins a franchise in free-fall
- Learning to play football right: Some hope to bring safety back to game
- FENNO: NCAA finds way into Rep. Linda Sanchez's crosshairs over concussions
- FENNO: RG3's words not the Redskins' biggest problem
Latest Blog Entries
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
Bad science puts rich nations on the hook for trillions in climate liabilities
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC over 'ill-judged' comments about Sarah Palin
- First Dog Sunny knocks down Ashtyn Gardner; Michelle Obama yanks leash
- Puerto Rico caravan honoring Paul Walker ends in 6 drunken-driving arrests, 72 speeding tickets
- HURT: Postal Service misses address by a whole continent
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Apple wins facial recognition patent for iPhone 6
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
- EDITORIAL: Motor City meltdown
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
Despite cynicism about the law, it can provide you justice, protection, and ensure your rights.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch