08.17.11

WaPo Columnist : Ovie’s OK. But He’s No Stephen Strasburg

Posted in Baseball, Hockey, Sports Journalism at 4:23 pm by

(l-r : two fellas who can’t win the Big One, but at least the guy on the right doesn’t have to read he’s less exciting than Anibel Sanchez)

Calling Stephen Strasburg, “The District’s Top Dog”, the Washington Post’s Jason Reid recently selected the rehabbing Nationals starter as his city’s top professional athlete, ahead of the Wizards’ John Wall, Redskins LB Brian Orakpo and most controversially, Capitals LW Alexander Ovechkin. Following the predictable fallout, Reid attempts to explain his decision in Tuesday’s paper, declaring “I’m a baseball guy.”

As a child, I learned to read while sounding out words in newspaper baseball articles. Watching a well-pitched game is among my favorite things in sports.

Taking my son to his first baseball game was one of the proudest moments of my life. And Strasburg possesses the ability to become Major League Baseball’s best starting pitcher, which would be a very cool thing for D.C.

I didn’t grow up watching hockey. For the most part, hockey players, I recall thinking as a kid, didn’t look like me.

I’ve attended hockey games because of work, even covered the Stanley Cup playoffs, but I prefer baseball, basketball and football. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with hockey. Or wrong with me. It’s just one man’s opinion.

The Capitals’ repeated postseason failure is a factor in my assessment. For all Ovechkin has done to lift the Capitals, he hasn’t led them past the second round of the playoffs. The Eastern Conference’s top-seeded team the past two seasons, the Capitals haven’t figured out how to win when it matters most.

Sporting biases aside, Reid engages in a fair bit of wishful thinking when suggesting Strasburg might “emerge as the single most important athlete in D.C. sports history” when the number 1 pick in the 2009 amateur draft has pitched a grand total of 68 innings in the major leagues.  Ovechkin, by contrast, is already a five-time All-Star and two-time winner of the NHL’s Hart Trophy. Claiming he’s the inferior local icon to a player with Strasburg’s limited resume isn’t merely a vote for baseball over hockey, it’s essentially saying that until the Capitals win a Stanley Cup, they’re a secondary concern compared to a 4th place baseball team.

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