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60 seconds at Nats Park

Here's a great 60-second look at the hordes who attended Strasmas from Nationals Daily News's Ian Koski.

And here's another look at the fans, from The Post's Mark Abramson.

(Also, to anyone complaining that there's too much Strasburg coverage today, too bad. Trust me, I'll do just as much for Walloween. And thanks to the brilliant reader who thought of that one.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 9, 2010; 1:52 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Strasburg haiku winners
Next: Costas: Strasburg debut was "preposterous"


A Risky Choice

By Michael Wilbon
Thursday, June 11, 2009

No way in the world I'd have taken Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 pick in the draft. The risks are too great. The rewards are, historically speaking, nonexistent. And the price, from all indications, will be prohibitive.

I wouldn't draft a guy who's going to play every fifth day to improve my team's attendance. And I certainly wouldn't pin my hopes on the most fragile thing in baseball: the arm of a young pitcher.

The Washington Nationals, as we all can see, have a long shopping list.

Yes, they need pitching, but they also desperately need everyday players, lots of 'em. And they don't need to drop $50 million, or even $35 million on a college pitcher. This kid isn't, as agent Scott Boras would like us to believe, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had distinguished himself as a professional in Japan before getting millions to come to the majors.

Strasburg isn't any different from any of the other 13 pitchers selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft since 1973, none of whom ever won a Cy Young Award or anchored a staff for six or eight years. Strasburg, right now, isn't any different from David Clyde, the phenomenon the Texas Rangers selected No. 1 in 1973. You think Strasburg's record of 13-1 and 1.32 ERA at San Diego State are impressive? They are, but not as impressive as Clyde's 18-0 record, which included 14 shutouts and five no-hitters, as a senior in high school.

You can go down the list if you want. A guy named Matt Anderson, drafted No. 1 by the Tigers in 1997, threw 100-plus mph. He won 15 games, saved 22, and that was that. The Pirates drafted a kid named Bryan Bullington in 2002, and gave him a $4 million signing bonus. He's in Toronto's farm system, seven years later, and has yet to win a major league game. Do you really want me to go on with this?

Okay, one more. In 2001 the Minnesota Twins passed on the player who was the consensus "best player available" because they thought he would cost too much money. His name is Mark Prior. It looked for awhile like the Chicago Cubs were going to have Prior anchor their staff for a dozen years or more; that's how good he was in his second full season as a starter. Except Prior broke down and now has zero career, while the guy the Twins selected, catcher Joe Mauer, might now be the best player in baseball.

Granted, Mauer's from Minnesota. He was a local god and the Twins wanted him to be the face of their franchise. But Strasburg isn't from the D.C. area. There's no built-in love for him. His value to the Nationals, should they successfully sign him, would be entirely performance-based.

Occasionally, history should be ignored. But not this time.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 9, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

A Risky Choice Part II
By Mike Wilbon
Thursday, June 11, 2009

The common-sense evidence is too overwhelming. We have yet to know what's going to happen with the very promising David Price (Tampa Bay) who was chosen No. 1 in 2007 and Luke Hochevar, who was chosen first in 2006 and is pitching now for the Royals.

But pretty much, it's the same story up and down the list. Andy Benes (1988), Tim Belcher (1983), Mike Moore (1981) and Floyd Bannister (1976) were all guys you'd like to have. But they didn't cost, not even when salaries are adjusted for inflation, the equivalent of $50 million. And none was what you'd ever call "the ace" of a staff.

This notion that the Nationals needed to draft Strasburg as a show of faith to the team's fans is insultingly absurd. You know how you build and keep a loyal fan base? Put a credible product on the field. Be competitive year after year. Forget about the symbolism of drafting and signing the kid rated No. 1 and instead acquire the best players. How much could Strasburg affect attendance if he's pitching approximately 16 times at home?

Mike Rizzo, the Nationals' acting GM, was quoted as saying, "There was never a thought to taking another player."

Well, there should have been. But now that the Nationals have selected him they're saying that signing him won't be an issue, even though they couldn't sign last year's first-round pick, Aaron Crow.

Maybe the Nationals think Boras is bluffing. I don't, but maybe they do.

They've made so many mistakes as an organization it's insane to give them the benefit of the doubt in this. Had the Red Sox drafted Strasburg, I'd be less likely to think this had "bad move" written all over it because the Red Sox, of recent vintage anyway, make decisions that lead to first place while the Nationals mostly look like the Charlie Brown All-Stars.

And one kid pitcher, even one with a great arm, is unlikely to change that because there's so much that can go wrong with the kid's shoulder or elbow, with the contract negotiations. Maybe, putting on my optimist's hat for a moment, Strasburg will be the exception to all this. Maybe he'll trump history and be the first star major leaguer to be chosen first overall in the draft. Maybe. Hopefully. But it's a bet, especially at $50 million, I wouldn't be willing to wager.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 9, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Valid point. Eat those words wilbon!!!

Posted by: JoeMama11 | June 9, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The master of the cut and paste.

Posted by: jpfterps | June 9, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Walloween. LMAO! That's pure WOP genius right there.

Posted by: goskinsgo | June 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

On a recent PTI:

Tony Kornheiser quoting Mike Wilbon's 2009 column: "No way in the world I'd have taken Stephen Stasburg with the number 1 pick"

Wilbon's response: "There was a context and I knew you wouldn't provide that. I said if the Nationals are not gonna get this kid signed, there was drama about whether they'd even get him signed [then I wouldn't have drafted him]"

Make no mistake bog readers, this is a blatant lie by Mr. Wilbon. The context in his column had virtually nothing to do with whether or not they'd sign Strasburg. (There is only a passing reference to the Nats not being able to sign their previous number 1 pick, buried in the 15th paragraph.) The context was actually this: "Strasburg isn't any different from any of the other 13 pitchers selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft since 1973, none of whom ever won a Cy Young Award or anchored a staff for six or eight years."

It's clear at this point to all of his longtime readers that Mike Wilbon cannot under and circumstances admit when he is wrong about something. And instead of admitting the obvious, he instead tries to get you to believe he didn't actually say the things he did and there was a context that explained it--and makes him look like less of an idiot--when there wasn't.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 9, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow. That last guy in the second video is a tool. Believe it.

Posted by: rew_23 | June 9, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Why does anyone read Wilbon anymore?Seriously.

Posted by: TheOtherGuyInSection117 | June 9, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

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