The Seeds of Spring Blog has just learned that Stephen Strasburg, the phenomenal baseball pitcher for the Washington Nationals, will not be shut down in September. Repeat: Will not be shut down! Remember, you read it here first.
Sources close to someone who claims to have knowledge of sources close to someone who knows Strasburg tell this writer that there are several contingency plans under consideration, despite the consistent and firm statements to the contrary from the general manager and manager of the Nationals, who have the best record in Major League Baseball. These sources, who insisted on anonymity, say the details are still being worked out.
Unless you have lived under a rock for the past year or have no interest in baseball, you know that one of the big sports stories of the year has been the plan to have Strasburg stop pitching sometime in September. Barely a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, which involves an elbow ligament transplant, Strasburg is being shut down in an effort to prevent further injury to his powerful right arm, which is responsible for the fastest average pitch among starting pitchers in the known universe.
[Interesting fact: The first player to have Tommy John Surgery was a pitcher named … Tommy John! What are the odds of that?]
But with the Nationals facing a great chance of making the playoffs in 2012, the prospect of shutting him down right before the postseason has prompted almost unprecedented angst inside the Washington Beltway. Even crusty, world-weary political operatives who don’t even blink at the prospect of a government shutdown have been known to sob uncontrollably at just the sight or mention of the Nationals’ Number 37.
The five scenarios for keeping Strasburg in the game go by the following secret code names, as related exclusively to the Seeds of Spring Blog:
This might be the simplest and cheapest of the five. On his off days, Strasburg has been seen frequenting The Spy Museum and certain shops in D.C. that sell theatrical costumes and other disguises. His roommate would not deny that he has seen Stephen modeling fake beards, wigs, glasses and even dresses—not that there’s anything wrong with that—in an effort to take on the appearance of someone else.
“If he shows up in the clubhouse in disguise, he can claim to be Fred Jones or some other minor league call-up from Frederick or Hagerstown,” one source said after being plied with a couple of shots of cheap gin. “Once he gets in a couple of games and Davey [Manager Davey Johnson] sees how well he’s throwing, he’ll probably get a few starting assignments, and he’ll be off to the races.”
The odds of success for this scenario are a little lower. But it goes like this: Strasburg and his agent try to persuade Johnson and the team’s brass that it was John Lannan or Henry Rodriguez or some other pitcher who’s in the minors or on the disabled list who had the Tommy John Surgery, not Strasburg. “Hey, there are 40 guys on the 40-man roster,” noted our source. “There’s bound to be some confusion. And even if the manager or general manager suspects that this is a little deceptive, it gives them cover to do what they really want to do—which is to let Stephen pitch.”
Plastic surgery is quick and painless. Why not try it on Strasburg? That scruffy little beard has got to go anyway, and the ears could use a bit of a trim. Might as well rearrange some of the facial furniture—with the input of his wife, of course. We’ll need to come up with a new name to get him through the postseason, of course. Who knows—maybe it could even be reversible during the off season.
My sources were a little short on details about this option, but the theory goes like this: Back when Strasburg was taken as the top draft pick in 2009, he had to undergo a thorough physical exam before the Nats agreed to sign him and give him that big signing bonus. Surely, during this exam there were skin cells or swabs of fluids taken—enough to capture his DNA and replicate him. Yes, they have had about three years to clone Stephen Strasburg. A tight timeline, admittedly, but such a clone would not have even had the elbow surgery and should be in even better position to fire 98-mph bullets past flailing hitters.
Of course, we would have to hide the “original” Strasburg for a few months. Area 54, or someplace secure like that. Fix him up with a big-screen TV and lots of chips and dip. It could happen.
This one’s a stretch, too. But no plan should be discarded out of hand when something as vital to our emotional wellbeing is at stake. We’re talking very limited, very controlled time travel. Reach about 14 months into the future, and bring the Strasburg of December 2013 back to October 2012 and have him pitch with an extra year of recovery. After all, he won’t need to be throwing baseballs in December 2013.
“It can’t work,” you say. “There are no time machines.” “Time travel is impossible.”
Well, that’s just the kind of negative thinking that brought us disasters like the financial crisis of 2008 and most reality TV shows. I mean, someday someone will invent a time machine. Give those crazy scientists enough time and money, and tell them to stop trying to find meaningless subatomic particles with those cyclotrons and whatever machines that cost billions of dollars and are hidden under Swiss mountains. They’ll come up with a time machine eventually. Then they’ll use time travel to send it back to us because, as they will realize with the perspective of time, no need ever was or will be greater than that of the Washington Nationals in 2012.
Case closed. It will happen.
There is one other scenario, though my sources would neither confirm nor deny it. Using holograms or just good 3D graphics, the team could project a fake Stephen Strasburg warming up in the Nationals’ bullpen during a close game. Watch the manager and players in the other dugout freak out and totally botch the game. Heck, they might even forfeit.
Next week, we’ll return the Seeds of Spring Blog to its regular programming. Until then, Go Nats!