Thom Loverro: Still defending the shutdown of Nationals' Strasburg

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MLB Network broadcaster Jim Kaat became the latest to weigh in on the shutdown of Stephen Strasbug. The former pitcher wrote an open letter to the Nationals ace, urging him to ignore the team and demand to pitch.

Well, here's an open letter to Kaat:

Jim, I've never met you, but I've seen you pitch. You had a great 25-year career, starting with the Washington Senators in 1959 and ending with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983, winning 283 games. Welcome back to Washington, as you are part of the broadcast team for Thursday's MLB Network telecast of the Nationals-Dodgers game.

In your open letter, you pretty much suggested Strasburg storm the mound over the objections of Nationals management and pitch for the glory and memories.

Here's what you wrote: "If you can imagine what it would feel like to ride down Pennsylvania Avenue in a victory parade with your teammates and wave to the White House and hundreds of thousands of Nationals fans and feel that feeling ... you would give a lot of thought to whether it was right or wrong not to pitch anymore this season.

"We gave no thought to what the condition of our arm might be next year. This was the World Series -- the ultimate stage. Who knows if we'd ever get back there again?"

Here's what I would say to you, Jim. If potentially $300 million was at stake, they would have had to force the pitching greats of your time on the mound at gun point.

Here's what I'm thinking you and any of those veterans would have done for a chance to earn $300 million over their careers -- walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in Screech's costume handing out pictures of Rob Dibble with a note that says, "If you see this man, laugh."

Or perhaps before every game you pitched, stand in Lafayette Park across from the White House in the George Washington Presidents Race costume and hold up a sign that says, "Teddy's a loser."

You say, "The money is nice, but the ring is the thing for an athlete."

That's brave talk coming from a player who earned a little more than $1 million over his playing career.

Strasburg is only in his third professional season. If good fortune accompanies the generational talent he has in his arm, he could earn as much as $300 million over his career. That amount of money changes everything. It turns heroes into pragmatists, glory into gold.

I'm not saying Strasburg isn't pitching because he wants to protect his future earnings. From what I do know about him, he is a hard-nosed player who wants the ball. But he has people watching out for him that do want to protect him, knowing they may be erring on the side of caution to protect greatness. That's good for everybody -- Strasburg, the Nationals, the fans and baseball.

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.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner