August 17, 2009

The Final Countdown

Nice of MLB to schedule an off day today. It's not as though Nats fan could use a distraction in the next few hours. By 12:01 tomorrow morning Washington will have concrete evidence that the franchise has either reached a turning point or that this generation of fans is wasting its time on the club. The stakes really are that high.

Forget Strasburg, Boras, Kasten, Rizzo, MLB, the players' union, the draft, the collective bargaining agreement and the future of sports in America. These next hours are about the Nationals and their fans. Plain and simple. Either the ownership, management and front office staff will step up and commit to making the Nationals competitive, or they will tacitly admit that they are perfectly happy to settle for a publicly funded stadium, steady media and merchandising profits and exclusive membership in the baseball owners club. Winning? Nice if it should happen, but secondary to protecting baseball's status quo.

Who the hell appointed the Nationals guardians of the best interests of baseball? Giving Strasburg $12M, $20M or $50M is "bad for baseball"? Says who? It might be bad for the owners, the commissioner, the league. Hell it might even be bad for the players and future draft picks if MLB institutes a salary cap and a hard slotting system. But bad for baseball? Baseball survived the Black Sox, the Negro Leagues, World War II, franchise relocation, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds and a tied All-Star Game. Baseball thrives everyday in dirt lots, American Legion fields and high schools and colleges all over the world. Stephen Strasburg could blow out his arm the day after signing or win 300 MLB games and baseball wouldn't change one iota.

I don't root for MLB, Bud Selig or the Lerners' financial portfolio. Signing Stephen Strasburg would be good for the Nationals. Having the best young pitcher in the game pitching in DC, NY and LA rather than Ft. Worth would be good for Major League Baseball. Having kids in Oakton, Anacostia or Silver Spring dream of growing up to be the next Stephen Strasburg would be good for baseball. Everyone agrees that Strasburg is a special talent. Why should I care whether the price of that talent is "record-breaking", "astronomical" or "outrageous"?

The Nationals have done nothing to earn the benefit of the doubt. Sure, they were "in" on Mark Teixeira, but at the end of the day they didn't get it done. Likewise with Aaron Crow. They negotiated, but when the clock struck midnight they were left holding a pumpkin. This year, the team has gone overslot to sign not one of their draft picks. Stephen Strasburg is not only all the eggs, he's the basket too.

In conclusion, a special word to Rob Dibble: "You sir, are an asshat." Quoth the Nasty Boy:

"And by the way, if you're the Lerners and Stan Kasten, you can't worry about what the bloggers and the media think of you. You can't bankrupt yourself and the system for one player."

News flash Dibbs. Bloggers are fans. I know for a fact that most Nats bloggers are also ticketholders. Which makes them paying customers. And if the Lerners and Stan Kasten are in the business of ignoring their customers now, DC residents probably have a right to be slightly put out at the $600M life-size chess board they built for King Teddy and the royal court. And, as an aside, if signing Strasburg is going to bankrupt the franchise or the "system" then wasn't the whole Teixeira negotiation (involving tens of millions more dollars over many more years) just a sham? What do you know that we don't, Rob?

For the next 12 hours, the clock is ticking on much more than just the Strasburg negotiations.


Kevin said...

Isn't the best young pitcher in baseball already pitching in SF or KC?

Nate said...

No hitter aside, Jonathan Sanchez is not the best young pitcher in baseball.

MikeD said...

I think he was referring to Lincecum.

Nate said...

I suspect you're right Mike.