Four Kings is a 4 part series looking at 3 of the number 1 overall picks and the RG3 picked 2nd overall pick on the rosters of the Washington DC sports team. For the Capital’s Alex Ovechkin , The Wizards John Wall, the Redskins Robert Griffin III, and first up Stephen Strasburg. He is “The Promise” as we have nicknamed all four of these icons in the Washington DC sports landscape. Please enjoy part one Stephen Strasburg – “The Promise”.
In the year of 2008 the Washington Nationals with the 9th selection picked Aaron Crow. Crow one year later signed.. with the Kansas City Royals after being pick 12th. Why is this the open statement to Stephen Strasburg? It made him “The Promise”! Not to save the franchise, not to lead them to the world series, but simply the Nats promised he would be a Washington National.
Stephen Strasburg was the number 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft. No one was concerned about the right-handers ability to play in the majors. Not a single concern about him not being able to be an ace. I can’t think of a single person saying that the Nationals were missing the mark by not drafting another player. It was all about how the Nationals failed a year earlier to sign Aaron Crow. Not to mention that Strasburg’s agent would want a record setting deal. The Nationals publicly “promised” that at the end of a the day that scenario would NOT happen. They promised that Strasburg would be in fact a Washington National.
On August 10th 2009 that promise was kept. Stephen Strasburg signed a four year 15.1 million dollar deal 77 seconds before the deadline. Now it was all on the shoulders of Stephen Strasburg. He was being called by many analysts a sure thing. Even though he never said I promise not to let you down. Strasburg showed it by working hard and producing like a phenom all seemed to be sunshine and blue skies.
On June 8, 2010, Stephen Strasburg made his MLB debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. One SI columnist said “The most hyped pitching debut the game has ever seen.”. Strasburg was thought to be up for rookie of the year. Everything was going great, he was setting rookie records and looked unstoppable. Then in July of 2010 he was placed on the disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder. He returned in August and suffered a tear of his ulnar collateral ligament and would need Tommy John surgery.
The Washington Nationals promised that they would get the best care. The Nationals promised Strasburg’s best interests would be kept in mind at all times. In September 6, 2011 that promise was kept with a promising return of 5 starts. Strasburg had 1 win 1 lose and throwing for 24 innings with 24 strikeouts and a 1.50 ERA. Strasburg came back just as Zimmerman did the year before him. After Zimmerman’s Tommy John surgery.
Then their was spring training. Where everyone first started to hear, that Strasburg would be on a innings count. At first this was no big deal as a matter of fact the overall consensus at that time was that Strasburg would do the same thing Zimmerman did the season before. Everything would be great, then April rolled around and everything changed the team went 14-4 before losing the last 4 games in the month finishing 14-8.
In May, the questions started could the Nats have started Strasburg later? Making it possible for him to play in the postseason? Would the Nats continue the success in May, and if so.. would it change the plan. Well the Nats GM Mike Rizzo promised there was a plan everyone that needs to know what it is does know and it won’t change. The Nats in May came down to earth a little going 15-13 for the month but still with a overall record of 29-22. Playoff talk started in Washington D.C. for a team that did not play hockey and the city was beginning to buzz.
In the next two months they went 32-20 for an overall record of 61-42. In that time they were swept by the Yankees, lost a series to the Orioles(a Geographic rival) and began to show signs of something specials! All of a sudden something that was to be a routine shutdown of Strasburg was now a national story. It headlined Espn’s Sportscenter was talked about on their show First Take. Not to mention every baseball town’s radio show, was talking about how dumb the Nationals were for even about saying they would shut down Strasburg.
Now for the Washington DC market August was unexpected; the expectation was a long conversation of RG3 and instead the Nationals took the thunder from Mount Olympus(Redskins Park) with their run for a Division Title! Then there was the fact that Strasburg was still on schedule to be shut down! The promise of Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo of the Washington DC. The argument was the Nats were gearing up for a World Series run and only a fool would sideline their ace.
The Nats continued to win. Everything was sidestepped by argument whether the Nats should or should not shut down their ace. Strasburg looked healthy, showed no signs of slowing down and his team was in first place. It was September, the announcement was made that Strasburg was done for the year. It seemed like a si of relief, but only for a moment. The Nationals made one more promise that this was in the best interest of the team. For Strasburg and the Washington Nationals future.
The answer may be in a World Series win or renewing Strasburg’s contract in or before 2017. As far as shutting down Strasburg, in Washington DC it is a closed question. In Washington after the Nats lost in the first round of the playoffs. A lot of people believed that the Nats run may have been deeper with Strasburg. In January at Fedex Field, RG3 went down in a playoff game with a torn knee, after clearly showing signs of injury and that then changed local opinion. It is one of those things; you see the horror of the franchise player going down… in the desire to win a playoff game. The mood of Strasburg being shut down changed forever on that day. The status of where the Nationals care of players did as well the mood was one of caution and the Nats were finally right! Strasburg is one of the 4 kings of Washington DC, he is the promise of the new era in Washington sports.