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When Strasburg = Slothburg

By Cheryl Nichols

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."

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 20, 2009; 12:16 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Next: Jason Campbell's Conversation With Favre


"As an example of how not to apologize, see here. Despite speculation? How about, "contrary to a published report on this Web site?")"

Christ, Steinberg - aren't you a little sensitive. And let's be honest, you are a blogger, err bogger, not a journalist.

Posted by: popopo | August 20, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"Christ, Steinberg - aren't you a little sensitive. And let's be honest, you are a blogger, err bogger, not a journalist."

Talk about missing the point. The guy reports the Nats "are" going to hire someone and it is not true and he can't even own up to it??? He should get crushed for going with a rumor and not fact.....

Posted by: punchdaclock | August 20, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Gordon Edes took to heart the lessons that Ken Rosenthal taught the world through his example.

1) reality is what I make of it
2) never give up
3) scoop now, sift later
4) my salary is not docked for being wrong

Good job, Edes.

Posted by: ihatewalks | August 20, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Didn't think I'd see my picture on the Bog. Normally I pose with my shirt on, like this one I modeled the Mottram Bros.

My buddies were trying to get their signs on TV and the Flex Cam came on so I took advantage of the opportunity. Look were it got me

Posted by: rfitz1 | August 20, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

There's a reason Edes no longer works for the Boston Globe

Posted by: Wooden_U_Lykteneau | August 20, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

haha, i knew i recognized Fitz.. ;)

Posted by: 3tripleiii | August 20, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

what are the odds that Strasburg will drag Teddy across the finish line tomorrow, giving him his first win?

Posted by: imlazar | August 20, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

What's intriguing to me is that no one has really talked about what happened in the two years between Slothburg-era and now. It's probably the more interesting part of the story, but I haven't seem anyone describe it other than Strasburg learning to make his own burritos and hitting the gym.

Many college athletes begin intense workout regiments; most people don't go from pudgy guy with little chance of making the pros to best prospect in decades. Where are the Michael Phelps-style reports of his freak-of-nature metabolism, or the Roger Clemens-style story reports of how his workout routine makes mere mortals vomit? Strasburg seems like a better role model than either of those two at this point.

More to the point, where can I find Strasburg's burrito recipe?

Posted by: tynansanger | August 20, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I dig the lebowski shirt by the fella on the right. Mind if I do a J?

Posted by: rollirish21 | August 21, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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