Thom Loverro: Going with the spirit of the Nationals' shutdown of Strasburg

By |
Sports,MLB,Nationals,Thom Loverro

Of course Stephen Strasburg's final start of the season will be in New York against the Mets.

Call it an anniversary celebration of the bizarre.

Fifty years ago, the expansion Mets had an epic record of 40-120 in their historic debut season, making them possibly the worst and most entertaining team in history.

It was the theater of the absurd, and everyone had a good laugh. But there is nothing funny about the theatrical show that is expected to take place in New York on Sept. 12. Strasburg will be shut down by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo after that game to protect him after Tommy John surgery.

The 2012 Nationals are not the 1962 Mets. Yet the idea of pulling perhaps the team's best pitcher in a pennant race even though he seems capable of continuing to pitch could be seen as almost 1962 Mets-like -- an absurdity.

Again, I am not in that overflowing school of thought. The last voices whose opinion should carry weight are the former and current players criticizing the shutdown. It's like the mentality of some former and current NFL players about hits and concussions. They're too close to the game to separate the medical from the manhood.

But I was curious what legendary manager Casey Stengel, who was the director of that 1962 farce, would think. I'm sure Casey would have loved to shut down many of his pitchers for the season.

So I grabbed a copy of Jimmy Breslin's book about the 1962 Mets -- "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?" -- along with my Gil Hodges first baseman's mitt and lit a candle while drinking a bottle of Night Train Express.

By the time I got to the bottom of the bottle, I had connected with Casey. If Clint Eastwood can talk to a chair, I can channel Casey Stengel.

"Casey, what do you think about the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg?" I asked.

"Been in this game 100 years, but I see new ways to lose 'em I never knew existed before," he replied.

"So you don't agree with the decision?" I asked.

"As great as the other men were on the ball club, there comes a time when you get a weakness, and it might be physical," he said.

"Yes, Casey, that's the issue -- it's physical. But I'm confused -- do you agree with the move or not? And what would you tell Strasburg?" I asked.

"Son, we'd like to keep you around this season, but we're going to try and win a pennant," Casey answered.

"Casey, we're not talking about Jay Hook here. This kid is a great pitcher. How would you handle it if you were Davey Johnson?"

"Don't cut my throat. I may want to do that later myself," he said.

Hiding the sharp objects might be good advice.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner