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Kornheiser and Wilbon critique Strasburg injury coverage

I can't say I read every Washington-based report on Stephen Strasburg's injury and his potential for recovery, but I've read a lot of them, and they all seemed to strike the right tone.

Kilgore: After one of the most electrifying beginnings to a baseball career in memory and after validating the massive hype that trumpeted his arrival, Strasburg ends his season with an uncertain future. The Washington Nationals will hold their breath, optimistic Strasburg will conform with the odds and return to full health by 2012.

Zuckerman: Recovery time from the ligament replacement surgery is typically 12-to-18 months, meaning Strasburg wouldn't be ready to return until late-2011 at the earliest, a crushing blow to an organization that has pinned much of its long-term hopes on the 22-year-old's right arm.

Boswell: It's bad enough that the best pitching prospect in many years is gone for at least 12 months after only 12 major league starts. But it's even more galling that absolutely nobody can give you an exact reason or a particular culprit or a proper emotional reaction. And nobody can do better than give you rough odds on what kind of pitcher Strasburg will be by opening day of 2012.

Sheinin: If Strasburg sits out 2011, then goes on to have a Hall-of-Fame career, would [drafting him] still be a mistake? I'm not saying that will happen, but I think what's really unwise is leaping to conclusions about the rest of Strasburg's career based on this. Tommy John surgery is commonplace and comes with a very high degree of success.

AP: It's a blow to Strasburg, of course, and to a baseball world that has spent the summer gasping in awe at his 100 mph fastball, bending curves and wicked batter-freezing changeups, but the biggest punch to the gut is to a Nationals franchise that had made the young phenom the centerpiece in their plans to climb out of perpetual last-place irrelevancy....Now he faces something he's never experienced in his baseball life: surgery on his arm and the realistic prospect of not pitching again until 2012.

That's a pretty nice dose of realism, far as I can tell, balanced with data on the high rate of success of the procedure. And yet Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon apparently believe the local media, or at least some segment of that, have been irresponsible in recent days. PTI dialog follows:

Kornheiser: In Washington, this is being spun as no problem at all. In fact, in Washington, people point to the fact that so many current Cy Young-caliber pitchers have had the same surgery without a problem.

Wilbon: This optimism that I hear expressed at times is insane. It's irresponsible, when you do it in this profession. When you are reporting and even analyzing and you act like this is no big deal, that's junk. This is a big deal. Otherwise we ought to go around yanking our sons arms out of the socket and just sort of have this surgery be mandatory so they can all come back later. It's insane....It certainly could mar his career. It's not the death sentence it once was, but any phony optimism here, he still has to come back from this surgery.

Kornheiser: It's so Pollyanna-ish, isn't it, to think that this is an automatic, that a year from now he's gonna be Walter Johnson? I don't get that.

Wilbon: It's irresponsible.

If anyone has any idea who or what they're talking about, I'd be most interested. Because I really can't remember anyone in this profession saying this is an automatic, being Pollyanna-ish, or acting irresponsibly. Quite the opposite, actually.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 1, 2010; 1:32 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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As has been mentioned here a zillion times, both Wilbon and Kornheiser are incredibly out of touch with the local sports stories, people, media and vibe.

Posted by: gidge | September 1, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness we are not limited to Tony K and Michael W for baseball coverage in this town. Go back to "analyzing" the Skins and Wiz's guys.

Posted by: Section222 | September 1, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

TK and Wilbon completely out of touch and on their own planet? That never happens.

Posted by: Zornado | September 1, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Actually, many high school kids ARE rushing to get Tommy John surgery while they are still young. This has been going on in the south for years.

Posted by: Giantsfan1 | September 1, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Two words for Wilbon and Mr. Tony--Jordan Zimmermann.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | September 1, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Wilborn and Korn are both "old heads" and talk out both side sof their neck. Basically, I don't even watch PTI anymore. Wilborn is from Chicago and don't give a rats behind about any of the sports teams in DC and berates them on his show EVERY chance he gets. Whatever!

Posted by: ivyleague | September 1, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Tony K. is an old crank who has no meaningful insight on the DC sports scene.

Wilbon, although sometimes interesting, plays favorites to such an extent (e.g., unflappable adoration of LeBron) that his credibility is diminished at times.

Their comments above re: Strausburg are inflammatory and uninformed.

Posted by: thebone | September 1, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I think the PTI guys exageratted a bit, but I know I have read some optimism...

Here's a WaPo blogger on "The Bright Side"

More from Nats Journal on "Comeback Stories"

Boswell's column today might not have been insane optimism, but he certainly seems to have Strasburg set to be #1 in the rotation come 2012.

Posted by: natsfanbrent | September 1, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

They are both idiots who don't follow baseball. Kornheiser is mr redskins bandwagon ... he follows football ... Wilbon is a basketball guy. Not sure either even lives here anymore?

What do you expect from those two idiots?

Posted by: periculum | September 1, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Guys like these clowns and hypocrites like Marrioti are the reason the newspaper business is going south. Wilbon should be exiled to Chicago, Kornheiser to NY as they have ruined their reputations here long ago. At least Wise was joking just once; these has-beens are wrong about DC sports on a regular basis.

Posted by: robinson20194 | September 1, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Steinberg: I really don't understand your fascination with these two. They may be big shots in the world of you Posties, but in the real world, they're nobodies.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 1, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

They know Yankees and Red Sox baseball because thats where the ratings are on their show.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 1, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon calls the Strasburg coverage "phony optimism." And yet on Monday during his Chat House discussion, he said the Redskins, "have the makings of a 10-win team." Wow, talk about phony optimism! Is Wilbon looking at the same Skins roster: a gimpy McNabb, a similarly aging and injury-prone Portis, few options at receiver, and an offensive line thats one injury away from disaster?

Posted by: paul6554 | September 1, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"Kornheiser is mr redskins bandwagon ... he follows football ... "

Ha, caught ya! If you were really in the know, you'd alrleady know Mr. Tony only really follows golf (and Strasburg starts, but that's over, for now. Wilbon's not surprised).

Honestly, though, I have heard, eg, Tim Kirkchen (sp!) on Kornheiser's show, immediately after saying those who say it's good to get the surgery out of the way are crazy... compare SS to the 9 out of 12 (?) pitchers on the all star team who'd had the surgery. There is irrational optimism, at least w/in mothership circles, and I think that's the world PTi is stuck operating within, isn't it?

And look, "the realistic prospect of not pitching again until 2012" isn't exactly a worried sentiment. As TK said Monday, Strasburg's elbow is going to be all over the table. It's going to get UGLY. And the worry is he's out for a year? That he "wouldn't be ready to return until late-2011"? He could be DONE. 10% chance he's DONE. Gone. Coming back in 12-18 is a best case. There's a decent, non-trivial chance the Strasburg era could already be over.

Who's pointing that out other than the Dangerous Duo?

Posted by: WorstSeat | September 1, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Kornmeister and Kilbone are hacks. Of course, I'm not a journalist, so what do I know?

I'm still trying to figure out why 980 carries Korny's show. It doesn't fit with the rest of their line-up (unless you count the fact that Kornheiser has a show on the 4-letter TV, and the radio show that precedes him is mandated by the 4-letter to be broadcast on all ESPN-affiliates). Kornheiser talks very little about actual sports, and more often about TV or politics (neither of which he is very good at) on his own radio show, and shows himself to be very out of touch with the local (and sometimes even national) sports scene.

Wilbon...what is there to say? If it isn't basketball, and specifically Lakers, Cavs (now Heat), Celtics or Bulls, he won't deign to speak of it at all. As another poster mentioned, his own credibility is questionable due to his constant cock-gobbling of LeBrat and other NBA soopadoopastars. He's like a smarter, older version of Stewart Scott.

I'm guess that WaPo continues to feature these two out of some kind of need for their national name recognition, but its my observation that most DC/MD/VA sports fans could care less about what they say (unless they are bashing DC/MD/VA sports fans, as they seem to be wont to do).

Oh well.

Posted by: RCBJr | September 1, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Natsfanbrent: Trust me, Kornheiser and Wilbon aren't reading Nationals Journal.

Worst Seat: The Boswell column Dan links says this: "There's an 8-to-15 percent chance that Strasburg will never be the same again. Maybe he'd still find a way back as a mundane big-league pitcher. But no more Strasmas for us. Or him." Doesn't sound like irrational optimism to me. If the stats say that the surgery is successful for 90 percent of those who have it, then it's actually just pointing out facts to say that most pitchers return to form a year or two after surgery, not Pollyanna-ish.

The fact is that Wilbon frequently on his chats doesn't know basic facts about teams in DC or admits he hasn't read particular articles in the Post sports section. Kornheiser is better, but he's still paying much more attention to Brett Favre or the hot story of the moment nationally than he is D.C. sports media.

Posted by: TheFingerman | September 1, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Korn and Wilbon are media buffoons, and little else anymore. They used to be fantastic columnists for the Post that had huge reader followings. Now they say anything they have to in the name of ratings and attention. Such a waste.

Posted by: TerpInTime | September 1, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I think I may understand where Wilbon and TK are getting their exaggerated storyline from, because I had some similar misgivings this past week. The source I believe is Rizzo himself. Not that I'm faulting Rizzo, because I respect what he's done, and the tough position that he's in, but he has been IMHO, overly optimistic.

The day it was released that Strasburg would need TJ surgery, Rizzo had to do his press marathon explaining the organizations feelings on the issue. Multiple times he said, "At lease it's TJ and not his shoulder" (not an exact quote, paraphrasing). I understand why he feels optimistic when looking at it from that angle, but it did make me twinge every time he said it. The idea that Strasburg might fall into that infinitesimal percentile that TJ does not succeed is a real possibility, and to act like it might not happen is unrealistic.

That said, for Wilbon and TK to turn it into the above, I think is unfair.

Posted by: thurmdawg | September 1, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

"Korn and Wilbon are media buffoons, and little else anymore. They used to be fantastic columnists for the Post that had huge reader followings. Now they say anything they have to in the name of ratings and attention. Such a waste."

WINNER. TK and Wilbon are utterly irrelevant anymore. Their opinion carries the weight of Glen Beck or Geraldo.

Posted by: innocentbystander | September 2, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I actually agree 1000% with Kornheiser and Wibon. The media reporting around here of the Strasburg injury has been irresponsible. Boswell is teetering closer and closer to Mike Wise land every day.

Steinberg, take your tongue out of your cheek, your pettiness is needless in this scenario and makes you come off like 16 y.o. girl. Who made you ombudsman? You certainly aren't qualified...

Posted by: WhoSays | September 2, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

While Wilbon and Kornheiser are relatively irrelevant, the problem lies in that PTI's watched nationally by millions of casual sports fans. Thus, naturally, they all now think that every local sportswriter and blogger are blind optimists and being "irresponsible" in their reporting.

It's crazy to think that the skewed, ridiculous opinions of two idiots could hold so much weight, but sadly that's the case. You'd think they'd be more careful with what they say and really be knowledgable on their topics of discussion, but that just isn't the case. Not all the time, atleast.

Posted by: jdwood84 | September 2, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

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