Stephen Strasburg, baseball’s hottest rookie pitcher and the proclaimed savior of the Washington Nationals, is likely to need reconstructive Tommy John surgery, according to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. The surgery, deemed necessary after an enhanced MRI showed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, will keep him out at least a year.
Washington D.C. has not captured a major sports championship since the Redskins won the Superbowl back in the 1991 season — way back when Nirvana’s Nevermind was changing the musical landscape. The Capitals did make a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, but they were quickly swept by the juggernaut Red Wings. Just how bad has it been for D.C. since the 1991 season?
The Redskins have suffered nearly 20 years of mediocrity. They have only won the division once and have only made the playoffs three times since Superbowl XXVI. In 1999, they had a chance at the NFC Championship Game, but the snap on the potential game-winning field goal the week before vs. Tampa Bay was botched. They’ve brought in countless coaches and coordinators, but the results have remained the same.
The Wizards have had possibly the worst draft luck in NBA history, highlighted by the first overall pick of the 2003 draft Kwame Brown. Not even the star trio of Arenas, Jamison and Butler could take them past the first round of the playoffs. All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas, who was humming along at nearly 30 points per game dropping buzzer beaters along the way, was derailed by a knee injury when Gerald Wallace collided into him. This, of course, is a precursor to a 26-win season and Arenas being put in a halfway house for bringing guns into the team locker room. The last NBA title, 1978.
The Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup. The 70’s brought a string of embarrassing seasons. The 80’s brought the playoffs but no legitimate title runs. The 90’s began a run of choking to the Penguins in April. The 2000’s brought a disinterested Jaromir Jagr. Their fortunes changed in 2004 when they drafted Alexander Ovechkin but after a 108 point season, they still blew a 2-0 lead to Pittsburgh in 2009 and in 2010 on the heels of the best regular season in franchise history, became the first #1 seed in NHL history to blow a 3-1 series lead to a #8 seed.
The Nationals seemingly found their star pitcher for the next decade. A phenom with a 100-mph fastball and an array of pitches that fooled big league hitters upon his arrival. Now he needs Tommy John surgery and will be out for at least a year. Many pitchers including Chris Carpenter and John Smoltz have come back from the operation to have solid careers so this isn’t a death sentence for the phenom but it is not what the Nationals needed to hear at this time of the year.
What has D.C. done to deserve this misery? Is is those crooked politicians on Capitol Hill? Did the name ‘Redskins’ finally catch up to them? Has the Curse o’ Les Boulez which has plagued the Wizards spread to the other franchises?
No matter the cause, the nation’s capital cannot seem to catch a break with the sports Gods. Even if you are not a resident of the Washington area, you have to be disappointed that the kid is barely into the majors and already needs Tommy John. Baseball fans can only hope he returns intact and ready to go…whenever that actually is.
“Stephen Strasburg has torn ligament”, ESPN.com
“Washington Capitals (1974-Present)”, Sports E-Cyclopedia
“Washington Redskins (1937-Present)”, Sports E-Cyclopedia
“Washington Wizards (1963-Present)”, Sports E-Cyclopedia