There’s not a lot to say today, after Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo said the words, “UCL Tear.”
It’s the sort of injury that defines a pitching prospect, as the UCL is a critical part the infrastructure of the pitcher’s elbow, and allows Strasburg to throw with such brutal velocity and artful motion. To see Strasburg go down with a UCL tear just part of the way into his first season, and a season that the Nationals have taken such care with, it’s definitely disheartening for a fan to see.
I’ve seen a lot of garment rending and self-flaggelation on Twitter this morning over the injury. I’ve seen a lot of mentions of curses and whatnot. It’s natural to display such frustration in the face of setbacks. We need to, as a fanbase, work through our frustrations in a positive way, and remember that Strasburg was just one starting pitcher. There are 24 other guys on the primary roster, and 15 more on the 40-man roster that become eligible for use on September 1st.
In December 23, 1776, when the Revolution was in its early days, Thomas Paine started the “In Crisis” pamphlets. They began with a phrase we know so well, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Let the fair weather fan go by, Nationals fans. Let them go. This is our franchise to watch, with or without Strasburg, with or without any one player.
Mourn the loss of Stephen until 2012, but do not let it keep you from the ballpark. Do not let it keep you from your Red. Do not let it drive from you your love of this game in this city. These are the times that try fans’ souls, that tempers them in the fires of losses, injuries, and baubles; that forges in them the loyalty that comes from sticking by the team in the darkest hour.
Gather close your friends in red this week. Go see an extra game against the Cards, especially if they’re all like last night: close fought battles with a division-leader against their ace that go into extras. There are still many reasons to love, and struggle with, Nationals baseball. But they’re what we’ve got, and you don’t walk away from a franchise because of the injury of one player.
These are the times when character is forged, when allegiance is built. If you’ll forgive the mangling of Paine’s closing words, “This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils…” What choice have we, but to remain true to our team? Would we become Phillies fans? Mets fans? Braves fans? Surely, we all have more class than to turn tail and run to safety amid the danger.
Do not tarry long in distress, Nats fan. Your team still needs your voice, your heart, and your faith.