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The Strasburg Story distressingly familiar

8/25/2010

In the wake of this disheartening news, Joe Posnanski starts making a list, which is interesting (if disheartening) except the problem is figuring out when to stop ...

    There is an endless list of names ... players who could have been in Cooperstown with the great stuff they had ... Roger Salkeld ... Dean Burke ... Les Rohr ... Brien Taylor ... David Clyde ... Bill Pulsipher ... Todd Van Poppel ... these are not cautionary tales. These are not exceptions to the rule. They are the rule. These are the reality pitchers, the ones who had their great careers ended before they began. Every scout has a story.

    --snip--

    Yes. There’s often arm trouble. A complete list would be impossible to put together — Rich Harden ... Kerry Wood ... Tom Hall ... Balor Moore ... Howie Pollet ... Ewell Blackwell ... Slim Jones ... all of them might have been legends. Some just barely managed to become legends before the end came. Bret Saberhagen won two Cy Young Awards before he turned 26. J.R. Richard suffered a stroke after he had struck out 300 in back-to-back seasons. Sandy Koufax retired at 30.

Other names that Posnanski comes up with -- Jim Pittsley ... Jay Franklin ... Mark Prior ... Gary Nolan ... Mark Fidrych ... Steve Avery ... Ben McDonald ... Jim Bouton ... Herb Score ... that list includes most of the rest of the famous ones, but they're famous only because they actually looked great in the majors for a year or two or three before they, too, were struck down by the baseball gods.

I used to think one might write an interesting book about pitchers who have gotten hurt, with the book including a full accounting of such pitchers and telling some of their stories in detail.

I don't think that, anymore. I think it would be impossible to come up with a full accounting, and I think the sad stories would quickly become monotonous because they're really all the same. Guy has incredible talent. Guy gets hurt. Guy doesn't have talent. Guy has to find some other way to make a living. While he's still in his early or middle 20s. It's happened hundreds and perhaps thousands of times. Those guys above, they're just the ones who threw 100 in the minors, or were in the majors long enough to tantalize us (or break our hearts). And Posnanski didn't even mention Smokey Joe Wood or Karl Spooner or Dwight Gooden or Ron Necciai, et cetera ad infinitum absurdum.

And there still doesn't seem to much that anyone can do about it.