Stephen Strasburg and Robert Griffin III: The inevitable and cloying comparison
Someday, maybe, for the sake of Washington’s psyche and will to consume sporting events, a local team’s playoff run will end without a disastrous collapse, a funereal home stadium and, most cutting of all, a franchise player on the sideline with a scrutinized ligament, reduced from a generational talent catalyzing a giddily fun regular season to a debate from Sports Radio Hell waiting to happen.
The comparison is as cloying as it is inevitable. The Redskins decided to play Robert Griffin III even though he was injured, clearly diminished. The Nationals decided to shut down Stephen Strasburg even though he was healthy, possibly fine. We do not know how badly Griffin is hurt, but the grotesque bend of his leg in the fourth quarter is enough to presume it is not good. We do not know what will come of Strasburg’s right elbow, but he will arrive at spring training – just six weeks away! – with a clean bill of health. One franchise pillar is questionable. One is unharmed.
Is the comparison relevant? In some ways, it is not. The circumstances were too different. Griffin came into today’s loss with at least a first-degree strain of his LCL, and he visibly hurt it worse on that first quarter run when he tumbled out of bounds. Strasburg had a prescribed innings limit two years after major surgery, and despite two shaky starts in late summer there existed a clear possibility he COULD HAVE kept pitching and not done any long-term damage.