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Sorry Nats fans, but history is not written by the losers

Oct 13, 2012, 8:53 AM EDT

Stephen Strasburg

Yeah, it’s totally crazy to think that the team is better with one of the best pitchers in baseball.  In a postseason where anything can happen, and where nine of the ten teams who enter will not leave alive, it’s always the case that the best on-paper team wins it. The ones who lose never ever wish that they had an extra ace pitcher at their disposal. It’s ludicrous to suggest otherwise.

Craig Calcaterra, quite sarcastically, on September 3, 2012.

Cheap shot? Sorry, get used to it Nats fans. And not from me (well, not just from me).  Because after last night’s stunning loss, you don’t get to write the history of the 2012 Washington Nationals. Everyone else does. That history is going to always mention Stephen Strasburg, and your arguments to the contrary won’t matter. That’s just how it goes.

At the outset, yes, there were so, so many non-Strasburg reasons the Nats lost that lead and then the series last night.  Drew Storen not throwing strikes in the ninth. Davey Johnson sticking with him (and pitching him the previous couple of days too). Ian Desmond not getting to that Descalso single. Any number of things that happened while the Cards chip, chip chipped away at the 6-0 lead throughout the game.

And as I said on Wednesday after the loss that put Washington down 2-1 in the series: the failures were many. The offense in games 2-3 (and 1 and 4 too, though that didn’t matter). Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson pitching poorly. The Cards, you know, being good. In light of that, it is overly simplistic to say that having Stephen Strasburg available would have given the series to Washington. Any number of other things could have given the series to Washington. The Nats could have and almost did advance without him.

But people are certainly saying it this morning and they’re going to say it all winter.  And frankly, I don’t have a problem with that, even if it doesn’t represent the best and sharpest analysis in the world. For the simple reason that when you lose and lose big like Washington did, you no longer get to author your own narrative. The Nationals, their fans, and a great number of the team’s surrogates in the media set the terms of debate in the middle of the season and those terms were uncompromising: “this team was good enough to win the World Series without Stephen Strasburg!” they said. And woe be to anyone who suggested that wasn’t the case. We could kiss their press pass if we disagreed.

That is now undeniably not the case, and it would be beyond hubris to say “but we were good enough, we were!” The losers never get to set the narrative. Just ask the Buffalo Bills fans who want their great early 90s run recognized as a success rather than a failure. Just ask Atlanta Braves fans (cough, cough) who have tried for years to say that their team was better than any other one-time World Series champ. Ask anyone else who roots for a team that, however good, doesn’t follow through on its promise. You can say you were good enough among friends and you can all make yourself feel better about things by doing so, but you’re never going to convince anyone else of it. Sports don’t work that way. Winners are the winners and losers are the losers, and when you conspicuously tempt fate and conventional wisdom the way the Nationals did with Strasburg, the voices calling you losers will be even louder.

Nats fans can look at Zimmermann and Jackson’s bad starts and say “hey, they would have started anyway, so it’s not the fault of the shutdown.”  They can look at Ross Detwiler‘s great start on Thursday and say Stephen Strasburg’s playoff rotation replacement did just as good a job as Strasburg would have done, if not better.  They can also say that they twice came within one strike of advancing last night, and Stephen Strasburg would not have been throwing those pitches.  But guess what: it’s futile.

Because everyone else will note that the Nationals (a) willingly chose to enter the playoffs with their best pitcher on the bench; (b) lost a series in which they gave up 32 runs and had only one quality start in five games; and (c) used a starting pitcher in relief in Game 5 on short rest, so all hands — except for their best hand — were obviously on deck.

And no matter what holes you can poke in that argument, Nats fans, the fact is that your team did not advance. They lost, and losers do not get to write the history when it comes to such matters. Believe me. I know from experience.

148 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. vcupats - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Just change it to AntiNatsTalk and get it over with.

  2. tomemos - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Jeez, stay classy, Craig. This the first time people have disagreed with you on the Internet?

  3. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    And no matter what holes you can poke in that argument, Nats fans, the fact is that your team did not advance.No matter how ignorant the other side is in their beliefs, you won’t stop them from doing it even though you may be right.

    fixed that for you (if the coding worked).

    Do the fans really care if a bunch of luddites throw around disproved cliches? We shouldn’t celebrate the ignorance(s) of these people, just ignore it and get your information elsewhere.

  4. woodenulykteneau - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    The Nationals fanbase is young and immature. Sooner or later, they’ll get that the hate is displaced form of respect. Right now, they’re suffering their first near-miss, which Craig willingly notes has been a Braves trademark even if they can’t quite grasp that the ’94 strike interrupted their first streak of division titles. Which, of course, makes sense since a lot of Southerners have a loose understanding of history, if not math. The more mature Nats fans will recognize that 2012 might just end up being the equivalent of 2003 for the Red Sox fans or 1985 for the Mets fans — a devastating blow that will fuel the fire for next year.

    • helixro14 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      Or 2004 for Cards fans. Of course it took two years, but still – – -

      • umrguy42 - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:06 AM

        2004 *and* 2005…

    • schmedley69 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      Respect for the team, not for the fans. I mean, we’re talking about a fan base that never showed up, until very recently, and when they did finally show up they sang A-Ha songs in unison. Sorry, no respect for the fans. Lets see if they show up in the regular season next year, or if they make like Rays fans who only bring the cow bells out at playoff time.

      • cardslifer - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:57 AM

        Could not agree more. After Worth’s walk-off homer in game 4 he said National fans were the best fans in the game and my thought was ” Since When?”

        But I can’t blame Worth though. If I hit a walkoff in a huge game I’d probably be a little delirious too.

      • dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM

        Cmon schmedley69, if the Phillies won 50 games this year, would you pay to go see them play? If they were brand new to the city and lost EVERY year they were there, would yo pay to see them play? The Cubs and Red Sox weren’t filling up their stadiums this year, especially towards the end, but do we question their fan base? When a new team in the area loses 100 games 2 years in a row, never having a winning record (until this year), and still had a solid fan base showing up to those awful games (i know i was there) at around 15,000 people late in the season (closer to a steady 25,000 people at the beginning of every season), how can you question our fanbase? I mean after 120 games, there are still 15,000 people in one of the most expensive areas in the country with a million other better things to do wasting $40 and 4-5 hours (including the insane metro commute) of their lives on a weekday usually so we get home late and barely sleep before work tomorrow just to watch a team get there ass handed to them year after year. Until this year. Gotta cut us some slack bro.

      • dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:16 AM

        Ya know i want to add this. I forgot to mention only around 615,000 people live in DC. Which means the surrounding 5.6 million people commute. Philly has 1.56 million in the city, New York 8.2 million, Chicago 2.7 million people. Around 1/3 of Washingtonians are not original natives but migrated for work or other reasons. If one in Northern VA, where i live, or southern Maryland wants to go to a Nats game, he must leave at no later than 5:30 pm to make a 7:05 start time. That means one probably left work early or had the day off. One MUST take the metro as our traffic is the second worst in the country and the parking at the park is a joke. Battling rush hour, one arrives, watches the nats game, and leaves the park around 10 pm. Gets home around 11 pm. Including metro fare, food, drinks, ticket prices, one spends around $75 per person to see a game. Since no one goes alone thats $150 per couple. You want to spend that to watch the worst team in baseball? Cuz we did, for 2 years. And you still question our fanbase. Once again, cut us some slack bro.

      • shzastl - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        “No one goes to the games because the traffic is bad” is not a legitimate excuse for the Nats having a good fan base. Plenty of cities have horrible traffic yet still get close to 3 million fans a year. The Nats crowd by and large just jumped on the bandwagon come playoff time. Not saying that’s bad. The team is still new and it takes time to develop hard-core fans. But you can’t seriously say their following is on par with many other teams around the league.

      • 4cornersfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        Cubs fans still turn out. Speaking of the Cubs, in 20 years will the Nats be dragging out uniformed effigies with No. 37 pinned on the back to the mound, or hanging a dummy Rizzo in center field in a futile attempt to lift the post-season curse? In some sick way that image appeals to me. Carpe diem, Nats. Carpe diem.

    • jaybyrd99 - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Or they could be the 2005 astros.This game can humbling and you just dont know what your team’s chances of getting bsck in are . Thats why i believe you go into the playoffs with your best roster.

      • woodenulykteneau - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM

        Which they did, the insistence of the philistines to the contrary not withstanding. The myth is Stephen S-t-r-a-s-b-u-r-g was pitching at an ace-like level and was abruptly cut off. The reality is that he was a .500 pitcher in his last 14 starts and had an ERA a shade under 4.00, i.e. no more or less likely to win than either Edwin Jackson or Ross Detwiler.

  5. dondada10 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    You can hook the Loch Ness Monster with all the bait you’ve but on this lure.

  6. ncphilliesguy - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    I would say that the Nats future is murky at best. Natitude!

  7. ghostofjimlindeman - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Was a clown choke job bro! Rizzo is a moron serves that arrogant prick right. That being said nationals should have a bright future no reason not to be positive about this team when these wounds heal. Cards are still the varsity team here, youth is great but experience goes long way in playoffs.

  8. finsfrenzy - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Nats stink……Go Phillies!!!

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      Shall we review where they went this past season?

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        I think it was a full 12 games ahead of the Feesh? ;>P

      • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM

        At least. But this wasn’t about the Feesh, was it?

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        The Feesh and Phills are as relevant at this point in the season. Add an “ir” for accuracy.

      • 4cornersfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        And 12 games above the Red Sox. Heh.

  9. dsmaxsucks - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    Craig apparently has little respect for the intellect of historians, because apparently historians will thinkStrasburg would have pitched every game in the series, and every inning so Storen’s off the hook. And no one will notice that Strasburg’s replacement pitched a gem in game 4. Or that Strasbourg was fading down the stretch and sucked in his last start (and then let his manager make crybaby excuses for him).

    Plus… they choked. Bad news for Desmond here. People remember Buckner, not the postseason roster moves of the 86 Sox.

    • indaburg - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      There were other ways to utilize Strasburg in the post-season other than being a starting pitcher, since preserving his delicate flower of an arm was of upmost importance. Since I’m a Maddonite, I think, WWJD (What Would Joe Do)? I think he would have kept Stras on the post-season roster to use him for a couple of innings of relief as needed. First, Johnson kept his struggling starter in too long. Lucky the game wasn’t lost in the last inning Gio pitched. Then he brought in, inexplicably, Jackson? Then he overused his closer. In war and in baseball, you need all hands on the proverbial deck, especially your best hand. The Nats didn’t. It almost worked, but it didn’t. That feeling of a dagger in your chest and that emptiness in the pit of your stomach, Nats fan? All true fans of the game feel it as some point. Accept the criticism gracefully and hope for better luck next year. If the Cards prove anything, both in baseball and Vegas, it is better to be lucky than good.

      • cardslifer - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

        Gotta love them haters.

        A lucky team stick it out 7 games against an unbelievably good team last year in the Rangers?

        Give credit when credits due.

        Luck isn’t the same as resilience.

        To say this team’s success is built on luck is nothing but a clown comment, bro.

      • indaburg - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        No disrespect meant to the Cards. They’re a good team that plays spectacularly well in the post-season. The’re good and they’re lucky; best of both worlds. What I meant by my comment is that the Nats, on paper, are the better team. The Cards were lucky that the extra wild card was added this year, otherwise they would have been watching the Braves play the Nationals. They’re lucky that ball was just an inch out of reach. They’re lucky that check swing wasn’t called a strike. Personally, I would rather be lucky.

      • 4cornersfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        I was always really good in Vegas, but…

    • Jonny 5 - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      One thing the historians, as well as the fans of baseball in general won’t forget is this fact. While the Nationals were easily in first place of their division Nats MANAGEMENT used up all of the pitches THEIR best starter had left in his arm because THEY put a limit on pitches THEY were going to allow. Meanwhile they had plenty of players capable of taking every other start from him allowing him to pitch in the post season without going over his limit THEY set. And on top of this he was obviously becoming fatigued imo and could have used the breaks anyway. This was a huge mistake, and one they could have avoided by just thinking ahead and making sure they gave their team the best shot of winning in the playoffs. I only say this because it was quite obvious to most of the country by mid-season, that the Nats were very capable of making the playoffs. This shouldn’t even be a debate people. S.S. should have been available to pitch in the playoffs and anyone who doesn’t agree is ignoring logic.

      • teamo68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        Make note, Jonny, the Nats set the plan out from the beginning of the season. Stras was going to be limited in innings not only due to the fact he had TJ surgery but also the fact he had never pitched more than 125 innings in a season. Their belief, as is the belief around much of baseball, is that you do not increase a young pitchers innings too drastically from one season to the next. They did the same thing with Zimmermann last year. You get your young pitcher accustomed to the day in, day out routine of being in a starting rotation. If you move him to the bullpen or skip starts, you start messing with his off day workouts. Regardless of any breaks he may have received, it’s the increase in innings that lead to his fatigue and poor final few outings so, no guarantee he’s any more effective in this series than the guys who were out there. OK, maybe Jackson.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Regarding the 1986 Red Sox:

      Is DSMaxSucks suggesting that no one has ever questioned whether Dave Stapleton should have been playing first instead of Buckner? What history are YOU reading?

  10. stoutfiles - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    All the Nats fans had to know that if they lost in the first round, especially in a Game 5, that people would wonder how far they could have gone had they pitched Strasburg.

    But hey, there’s always next year, right? Because good teams always stay good and bad teams never get better.

    • chill1184 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      “Because good teams always stay good and bad teams never get better.”

      Complete crazy thinking over here /sarcasm

    • Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 13, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      This was the second round of the playoffs!

  11. raysfan1 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    It amuses me that there is a segment of Nats fans who read this article and react with the notion that Craig Calcaterra hates the Nats, instead of realizing he is only pointing out the obvious. Of course the Nats are a better team with Strasburg on it. Also, the theme that thing would have been different if he were available to pitch started on the air last night. The shut down of a young ace on a playoff team is so unique that it absolutely will be mentioned over and over–not just this off season but even during the season next year at least until the Nats actually win a World Series. It will also become a permanent part of baseball lore if they don’t win a World Series soon. Get used to it.

    That said, yes, the Nats were more than capable of winning without Strasburg. They also proved they could have lost even with him. However, reality often does not last as long as a popular narrative.

    • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      Well said.

      From all available evidence, it appears the sun rose over the National Capital Region this morning. Just as it has over every place where the home team disappointed its fans the day before. The disappointment will be coped with, reflections will be made on how much progress the team made this year, and folks will turn back to the things that matter most to Washingtonians (complaining about the Redskins, politics, traffic and the weather, roughly in that order). In April, we will gather once again at Nats Park, to the promise of a new season. Most likely, with Stephen Strasburg on the mound.

    • 4cornersfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      Fred Merkle, Bill Buckner, Mike Rizzo…

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:51 PM

        Wrong. If you’re going to take as cheap shot at Rizzo, at least compare him to other GMs.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:36 AM

        No, he’s right. Rizzo will be incorrectly labelled a goat if the Nats do not break through with a WS championship within the next few years. Buckner did not lose a World Series all by himself, but that’s the narrative, and it wasn’t until after 2004 that he was allowed to live it down.

  12. mungman69 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    The Nats will be back next year but nothing is guaranteed with or without Strausberg this year or next. Atlanta will be good again and Philly should rebound so a three team race looms. It sucks to be a Nats fan today. Man, they had that game won. St. Louis is tough.

  13. timmons94 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Mike Rizzo. Couldn’t happen to a bigger moron. Hahahahaha. No guarantees at all Washington is back again.

  14. brazcubas - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Fair enough, I can live with that (I realize its futile to do otherwise), but that narrative shouldn’t take away from the Cardinals superb performance in this series. To simply imply that with Strasburg the Nats would have advanced is doing them a disservice. They deserve the Kudos, as they probably would have won even without the assist by Rizzo & co.

    • drunkenhooliganism - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Strasburg makes them better. They could have won the series without him and he might have given up 8 runs in 2 and a third in his start. But you have to bring your best game. It’s like hitting on the hot girl without using words.

  15. heycraigc - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    You do realize that baseball is a team sport, correct? You also do realize that there are all-things not involving Strasburg for why the Nationals lost, right?

    Oh and who is to say the Nationals didn’t start their best pitcher twice in the series? Gonzalez, I thought, had a better season than Strasburg.

  16. prosourcetalk - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    Natituuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude!

  17. jaygott87 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    St Louis has alligator blood!!!

  18. cshearing - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Baseball karma in the truest sense of the word. I really like this young team, but the disrespect shown to competitiveness by their GM made this a glorious conclusion. If I’m Strasburg, there’s no way I re-sign there in 3 years. He didn’t want this but now has to live with it.

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      If you’re Strasburg and you blow out your reconstructed arm through overuse or overstressing, you probably don’t sign anywhere in three years. Rizzo clearly knew the risk of second-guessing to which he would be subjected, and he made a gutsy decision anyway. Good for him.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        Just a random thought. if this was so terrible, if Strasburg is so bummed (and clearly, he is bummed big-time, understandably), why didn’t he fire his agent? Oh, I don;t know, maybe because he knew Boras was looking after his long-term interests? Heaven forfend!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      but the disrespect shown to competitiveness by their GM made this a glorious conclusion

      Yes, how dare a GM takehis employee’s health and future well-being into consideration when making a decision, let alone one that might pay off in dividends in the future. Crucify Mike Rizzo, crucify him now!

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        Just got word that the angry mob is assembling at Nats Park at 2:00. Gotta get my torch and pitchfork.

        IMHO, of all the pathetic anonymous types on this here blog right here, the worst may be those who hate the Nats and Mike Rizzo because they sut down a young pitcher. A team and payer about which they care precisely diddlysquat. [Hmmm, is "diddlyquat" one word or two?]

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:16 AM

        COPO, It was possible to use him during the playoffs and not to exceed the predetermined pitch limit. There was plenty of time to iron this out while it was apparent to most people the Nats had a real shot at making the playoffs. I wouldn’t say crucify him for this, but he does deserve criticism imo. Actually Davy and Rizzo do.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:57 PM

        There was plenty of time to iron this out while it was apparent to most people the Nats had a real shot at making the playoffs

        The problem is that there wasn’t really a lot of time. What do you suggest, shutting him down for a month/6 weeks, and then starting him up again? To do something like that, you have to either keep him on his throwing regiment or risk hurting himself by building his arm strength back up.

        Ideally, they would have kept him in extended spring training for a month/6 weeks, then brought him up slowly so he hit 160 at the end of the season. But no one knew they were going to run away with the division like they did.

        Maybe Rizzo/Davey deserve some criticism, personally I don’t think they do; however, the amount of vitriol being thrown their way is completely undeserved.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:54 PM

        Well, we’re sports fans, and fan = fanatic. Goes with the territory.

  19. Jonny 5 - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    I said it in the middle of the season, and I’ll say it now. Again. I would have begun to limit S.S. starts as the season wore on to assure that he wouldn’t exceed his limit which was set because of his T.J. surgery. I would have used Lannan in his place every other start. If not only to give my team the best shot in the playoffs, but also to avoid this type of well deserved criticism. And Davy as well as Rizzo are guilty of having their heads between their glutes on this one.

    • cur68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Like, duh. WTF were they thinking over there? In this whole Stas-Down business, not even his effin doctor, Yokum, seemed to know what they were doing or what they plan was for the starting rotation. The solution for their problems was just what you said J5 and what raysfan1 said above you: limit his starts to save some innings for the post season. How hard would that have been?

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        All too easy my friend. I can’t agree with any rationale that says they should have used up all of his starts in the regular season.

  20. drunkenhooliganism - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    The reason that the rest of the baseball world was rooting against the Nationals is because they showed no respect for the game. Rizzo shelved his best pitcher and a top five pitcher in the NL because he might get hurt. Rizzo is acting like repeated playoff performances is the nationals birthright now (after never ever ever ever getting in the playoffs before). Every other team knows that line of thinking is bullshit.

    They came into the playoffs as healthy as any team has been in October in years. Only Ramos was hurt, and Suzuki was a fine replacement (pretty much the same player, just more expensive). The rest of the offense rolled into October healthy. Aside from the imaginary injury to Strasburgh, I don’t think a starting pitcher missed a start this year. The relievers were a little banged up starting the year, but were completely healthy from September on.

    That’s just not repeatable. The Nationals are still a good team going forward. They’re probably a 50-50 bet to make the playoffs next year. But even if they do are they gonna have their whole lineup healthy like they did this week?

    It was just disrespectful to those that know how hard it is to make the playoffs and win championships. Both those in the game and fans (and likely the players in the nationals clubhouse)

    • teamo68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      OK, the innings limit on Strasburg was not specifically to avoid him getting hurt this year but, is for his development as a major league starting pitcher. Do people not listen to what the Nats have been saying all along? He a 24 year old kid who has never pitched more than 125 innings in a season and coming off TJ surgery. They are going to bring him along slowly. If he had been coming off a couple of 200 innings seasons before he had TJ, there is not innings limit (See Hudson and Wainwright). Does no one remember all the heat laid on the Cubs for how they handled Prior and Wood? The Nats take the proactive step to take care of their player and they still get crucified.

      And you are right, there are no guarantees to make the playoffs but, if that’s not your goal each year, what’s the point of playing the season?

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      That’s horseshit, borracho. Since when does protecting the career of a guy with the potential to be a superstar and one of the biggest draws in the game amount to “disrespect” for the game? That’s like saying that hiding your baby is showing disrespect for Moloch.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:01 PM

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch

        I swear, you need subtitles. :)

  21. simon94022 - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Craig, this is what people hate about journalism. As best I can tell, your argument is that the Nats fans who supported the Strasburg shutdown may be right….but it doesn’t matter because they don’t get to write The Narrative.

    Who gives a fig about Narratives? What ever happened to reason and pursuit of truth?

    • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Reason and pursuit of truth? On a baseball blog? Well, a little, but it tends to get drowned out by the noise. Sorry.

  22. stex52 - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    I disagreed with the decision to shut down Stras altogether. As was pointed out above, he could have been a stud one-to-three inning man by pitching him less over his last few starts. Not perfect, but a doable compromise. But this story will be gone soon. He was showing signs of arm fatigue. It might have been the right thing to do for the short and long term. In a month we will all just be talking about the “scrappy Cards.”

    • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      Now see here, we’ll have none of this deviation from the Official Calcaterra-Approved Media Narrative!

      Problem with the Cards is this. You let them into sneak into your house. Next thing you know, your walls are covered in baseball-shaped dents, and they’ve tracked dirt from the back yard all over your freshly-cleaned carpet. Rather rude, actually. BTW, the Cards have a proud tradition of being scrappy, going back to the 1920s Gashouse Gang.

      Last night, sitting in the club level above the Nats’ dugout, applauded with fellow fans when Bo Porter returned to the dugout. A lot of us think Bo will make the Astros a good manager. Best whishes, Bo.

      • cur68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        Was that you holding the “Go Nats” sign above Harper as he returned from tearing around the bases on his homer, Greg?

      • teamo68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:28 PM

        The Cards are a damn fine club. From my spot in Sec 110, you could see their confidence and taking advantage of every opportunity the Nats gave them. As much as it pains me, you’ve got to give them credit. Hate the way it ended but, this has been a great season for the Nats and looking for more of the same next year (except the crushing collapse in Game 5 of the NLDS).

        And Bo will make a good manager. Hope the Stros eventually give him a team to work with though.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        ‘Fraid not. I was in the club level, above and behind 1B (and the holder of said sign).

      • cur68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        Too bad. That dude’s wife was pretty hot. Yowza.

  23. spudchukar - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Perhaps a little of the post-game analysis should emphasize the amazing resilience of the Cards and not dwell solely on the disappointing performance of the Nats.

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      Agreed. They spotted their pitches and drew their walks. They put good swings on opportunity pitches too. They hung in there and kept coming back. And did anybody bother to notice the way the Cardinal baserunners kept grabbing those extra bases while Storen came apart at the corpus callosum? That wasn’t just defensive indifference – it was brain lock on a grand scale. And it had nothing to do with Strassburg.

    • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:45 AM

      I find you gentlemens’ lack of faith in the Official Calcaterra-Approved media narrative disturbing. Apparently, a Jedi mind trick is in order.

      But seriously, the Cards did what the Nats did often this season. They perservered. As I said to my friend and fellow (half) season ticket holder (a Cards fan) when it got to 6-3, 6 runs is not enough. Unfortunately, the concerns I exressed about this team last month — that they looked like a .500 yeam — came to fruition. The Cards took advantage. Congrats and good luck to the Cards.

      As usual in these situations, the media narrative focuses on who failed, not who succeeded. And, of course, it will be simplistic. Ex., several failure by other Red Sox players led to Bill Buckner’s error. But we don’t remember Bob Stanley and Calvin Schiraldi and those other guys. In that sense, the media narrative just follows human nature.

      • 18thstreet - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

        A person can agree with Craig because he thinks Craig is right, not because it’s the approved media narrative.

        In fact, I was opposed to the shutdown as it became clearer that the Nats were really good (one year ahead of schedule, in my opinion); the MAIN thing holding me back from saying it more often was the meathead old school types who refused to acknowledge there was some validity to Rizzo’s logic.

        It’s not Craig who will be annoying you for the next 10 years, Rizzo apologists. It’s the idiots like Rick Sutcliffe who will remind you about it during ordinary regular season games against the Astros or Twins. (You know what has made me happiest, as a Red Sox fan, about 2004? That I could just enjoy baseball again without having the Buckner replay showing up and ruining my day at completely inappropriate moments.) (You know what annoys me most about the Buckner game? That even if he stopped the ball, Mookie Wilson would have beat Bob Stanley to the bag. And even if the Sox retired Wilson, the Red Sox would have just had to play another inning and probably lost it then.)

        Rizzo took a chance. It was a defensible chance. There was a best case scenario for 2012 and a worst-case scenario. What happened was a plausible, foreseeable outcome. I applaud Rizzo for his courage (he knew it was unpopular), but I still think he was wrong. And now, I’ve been vindicated and he has not.

        Strasburg would have started Game Two. He would have started Game Two. He Would Have Started Game Two. And while the Nats might not have won it, he probably would have given a better effort than would result in a 12-4 loss. And he would have been available for an inning or two of Game Five.

        In the short term, Rizzo was wrong. The results prove it. If Strasburg goes on to pitch 240 innings a year in 2013-2016, then he’ll be vindicated to a degree. But peace will never come to Washington until the Nats a World Series.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:15 PM

        Rizzo apologists? All he’s done is build a team that has gone from worst record to best record in 3 seasons. The record is there. A lot of us think that record makes it worth cutting him some slack. How, pray tell, is that being apologists?

        Of course, some agree with Craig. I don’t disagree with him entirely. And he hasn’t been as simplistic about it as many. But he’s still pushing the media narrative that says the Nats lost because Strasburg was shut down. It’s fair to call him on it.

        As to the rest of your comments, agreed.

  24. phillyphannn83 - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    I’m not looking it up but maybe someone else does and will reply the answer…has this ever happened before? Has a team ever shut down their Ace pitcher(I don’t care if you think Gio is, yes there’s a fair argument there but that’s not the point being made here) well before the end of the season and NOT brought him back for the playoffs?? Also, am I the only one who thinks this was rather ignored in the national media?? If this was the Yankees or Red Sox or even the Phillies with Halladay, it would’ve been talked about non stop, but it seems like just because its the Nats it was just a blip on the national media radar. I cannot remember anything like this ever happening before.

    Side note: as a Phillies fan, Craig, you asked us how we felt watching our former players win it for their teams in the playoffs. At this point, the playoffs have reached the point for me where they always do once my teams not in it. The only team I have left to root against, the Yankees, has one of my favorite ex-Phillies, Raaauuuuuull. Despite my hatred for the Bronx Bombers, I was actually pulling for the Orioles for other reasons. I Iike to see a team, a perpetual underdog who seemed to be playing better due to team chemistry and the shear will to win, actually get it done, and against their top adversary. I feel bad for them and their fans right now. But, with my team out, I couldn’t be happier. The loudmouth Nats and arrogant Braves are BOTH out at the start.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      has this ever happened before?

      Sort of, if you let a team expand the characteristics a bit. Saying shutting down their ace pitcher makes it a bit more difficult, but teams have shut down good pitchers before, even in the playoff hunt. The Nats did it with Zimmerman last year, the Yanks essentially did it with Joba, and the Sox did it with Buccholz. It’s also happened a few times in the last year or two with teams shutting down their prospects in September after they’ve been called up, but most of those aren’t in the playoff hunt.

      So to answer your question, nothing specifically like Strasburg but you could say the Sox and Yanks did set the precedent.

    • teamo68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      “The loudmouth Nats and arrogant Braves are BOTH out at the start.”

      How ironic coming from a Phillies fan, part of the most disrespectful fan base in MLB.

      • chill1184 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        Philidouchia comes in second in scumbag NL fan bases. Dodgers fans still hold first for putting that guy in a coma.

      • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        Those weren’t “Dodger fans,” just a couple of off-the-corner punks. Stick to the way they behave in the stands, and we’re back talking Feelie fans where we belong.

  25. tomtravis76 - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    It was a fun season in DC. Fans will be back next season, but you can expect small crowds on weekday games, just like every city. TV ratings will continue to climb. Nats Park is a great baseball stadium.

    But you have to look at Rizzo and say he screwed up, he didnt think he had put together a championship team in spring training. Rizzo deserves blame for his handling of a top 5 pitcher in the game. Rizzo put in place a plan for a team he thought wasn’t going to be a real contender.This Nats team was a speacial team, guys having career years, and you just don’t know if that chemistry will return, you hope it does. One pitcher does make a difference, just look at CC, that could have been the Nats and 2 wins locked up with Gio locking up game 3…thats your recipe.

    The Nats need to hit FA and find a closer, Storen choked-he deserves some media bashing for choking, its his job and he choked away the chance to be playing for the right to go to the WS. The offense did their job, the relievers held up and gave it to Storen and he blew it, don’t know if you can trust a guy again with the ball when he chokes like that with so much on the line. This game is alot of mental toughness and he showed he doesn’t have it.

    Its going to a fun NL East next season.

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      Feesh fans know all about dying with our closer. The Gnats can have Heath Bell cheap.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:25 PM

        Mariano Rivera had a couple of the biggest blown saves of all time, in the 2001 World Series and 2004 ALCS. Doesn’t detract from his greatness.

        Drew Storen seems a level-headed kid. He showed that he understands, this is the life of a closer. Methinks he’ll be OK.

    • cur68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      I think its fair to say your closer was tired. He’d pitched 3 days already. Also, what was Edwin Jackson doing in that game? Why didn’t your boys walk Kozma and pitch to Motte? As a catcher Motte sported a staggering .191 (Dick Stockton told the world that). I strongly suspect his bat skillz would not have improved. But never mind that. What about your short stop? Desmond got the heel of his glove on that Kozma hit. He was there in PLENTY of time. He over played the hit and it went into center. Lumping this on your boy Storen, man that’s some “What-have-you-done-for-me-lately” stuff right there.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:22 PM

        I think we’ve established that there was plenty of blame to go around.

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