When Strasburg = Slothburg
Yesterday I wrote something about how some fans would feel if Mike Rizzo didn't get the Nats' GM job. So, uh, whoops! Good job, everyone! Keep that Strasburg Bounce bouncing! Sorry for doubting you!
(As an example of how not to apologize, see here. Despite speculation? How about, "contrary to a published report on this Web site?")
Now on to Strasburg. This sign above, from the Flex Cam at Tuesday night's t-shirt giveaway game, is funny. But, in the time-honored tradition of horrid transitions, it made me think back to the early years of Strasburg's collegiate career.
It's oft been written that Strasburg came to college pudgy and out-of-shape, but this San Diego Union-Tribune story drives the point home in excruciating detail.
Barely 10 minutes into his first conditioning workout at San Diego State, then-freshman Stephen Strasburg was sprawled in the ice plant, throwing up. The workout was still in its warm-up phase.
Demonstrating that a catcher always supports his ace, Aztecs catcher Matt Parker said, "It was a pretty tough warm-up."
Strasburg was hardly the picture of fitness at the time. At 6 feet, 3½ inches, he weighed 249 pounds. His cheeks were pink, his stomach flabby. Dave Ohton, the Aztecs strength coach, saddled him with a nickname: Slothburg.
Sports Illustrated went even deeper into the misery of those early days, when Strasburg seriously considered giving up baseball in favor of a job at Lowe's or Home Depot.
When the baseball team convened in September 2007 for preseason workouts on the football field, Ohton had the players warm up by running from the goal line to the 50 and back. Strasburg could not get through four sprints without vomiting. "Is there something wrong with you?" Ohton asked. "Do you have a medical condition?"
Strasburg bowed his head, his chubby cheeks a bright red. "Just out of shape," he said. Ohton nicknamed him Slothburg, which he later shortened to Sloth. "I demoralized this young man," Ohton says. "I didn't even want him around the other players. I had never seen a college athlete who was as far behind as he was. I didn't think it was possible to be that bad."
Now, of course, we've moved on to the heady days of Strasburgissogood, which includes this absolute classic: "strasburgissogood he's allowed to tweet from Redskins practices." But then, according to both of these accounts, he couldn't bench press 135 pounds, had a 24-inch vertical leap and leg pressed less weight than women's volleyball players. The strength coach told him to quit baseball.
And Strasburg told the paper that the memory of being called soft will never go away.
"I'll always have some inner demons there," he said. "I've learned to embrace that."
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