Yesterday, Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg pitched his first minor league game. But it was what he did before and after the games that caught my attention:
Like other players for the Senators, Strasburg changed out of his jeans and polo shirt and pulled on his uniform. Like others, he grabbed a jelly doughnut from the pregame spread, which also featured jars of peanut butter and jelly and a plastic container of cheese balls (“Made with real cheese,” the label promised).
And then, finally, Strasburg once again was like any other member of the Harrisburg Senators. He grabbed a black plastic plate and a black plastic fork, loaded up with a barbecue sandwich, baked beans and coleslaw, then plopped himself down on that plaid couch to eat and watch the Masters golf tournament on that tiny TV, right in time to see Tiger Woods attempt a putt.
The Nationals will pay Strasburg $15.1M through 2012 and they’re feeding him pre-game donuts and cheese balls? This is a guy who has struggled with his weight in the past (he showed up for his freshman year of college 30 pounds overweight). The franchise’s hopes and dreams are riding on his shoulders. And this is the best they can do?
Rob Neyer has talked about this on his blog (but for the life of me I can’t find a link). Why don’t organizations spend just a little bit of money encouraging their minor leaguers to live healthily? In the majors, guys get a sensible pre-game spread. They get expert trainers and precautionary MRIs and weight rooms with high-tech equipment. In the minors they get cheese balls. That makes no sense.