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Chain Reactions: Nats Are National News; For Starters, RGIII Didn't Stink

The Nationals are rolling and are the talk of the sports world thanks to the eventual Stras shutdown; for starters, RGIII looked the part.

August 15, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Beck Diefenbach-US PRESSWIRE
August 15, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Beck Diefenbach-US PRESSWIRE

The Nationals just finished off a monster 10-game road trip on which they went 8-2. They swept their way through Houston, took 2 of 3 in Arizona, and another 2 of 3 in San Francisco.

The Nationals are a Major League best 73-45, atop all the Internet power rankings these days, and No. 1 in the BCS. Suddenly the offense is alive despite no Ian Desmond ( though he's returning Friday) and a struggling Bryce Harper. The pitching staff has been well ... the best in baseball still.

Their success has translated into ratings gold, as the Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg lays out here.The Nats' TV ratings are up 62% from last year's numbers on MASN.

Imagine what kind of ratings spike they could get if they didn't fix The President's Races.

In this week's "Chain Reactions," we talk about that other Nationals topic that has everyone, and I mean everyone, talking, plus RGIII's preseason debut.

Nationals Center of National Debate

Unless you have just woken from a coma, you are probably up to speed on everybody's opinion of the Nationals' decision to eventually shut Stephen Strasburg down. I think the only show that has not weighed in at this point is "The View" , but I'm guessing the Hasselbeck chick will be good with it and the others will hate it.

The debate on whether the Nats are doing the right thing is getting more run than the Presidential race (though at least this debate doesn't have really crappy commercials).

It is not just talk show chatter; current and former players have debated it, too.

The noise got much louder this week when some Nationals players admitted to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that they would rather not see it happen.

"I get their side," first baseman Adam LaRochesaid. "But our side is, the playoffs aren’t guaranteed. You don’t want to shut your best guy down — or one of your best guys, because we’ve got a bunch of them — if you’re never going to go back there. If I knew for the next two or three years we’re going to go back, then it’s probably an easy decision.

"From my side of it, I’m sure [Ryan Zimmerman], Jayson [Werth], [Mark DeRosa], guys who have been around a while, it’s tough to go out there and bust it every night, then turn around and have one of your best guys shut down. Are we going to pout about it? No. We’re not going to go yell at Rizzo or [Manager Davey Johnson]. No, it is what it is. It’ll be frustrating, but apparently we’re going to have to deal with it, because I think they’ve made up their minds."

Raise your hand if you have agreed with everything your boss has done at your job. OK, those raising hands have either not worked at a real job or are their own boss. In the real world, tough decisions are made everyday that employees do not like.

However, in most situations, if those tough decisions had an employees long-term health in mind, most employees would applaud it. At the end of day, even if you disagree with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and think this is not needed, at least he has the long-term interests of his investment in mind.

Once this controversy dies down, and everyone gets over it and onto some other outrage, it could very well end up being a big W for the Nationals organization. How often in sports do we hear about the franchises that put injured players on the field, court, or ice because of a win-at-all-costs mentality?

Here, you have an organization that clearly wants to win and is winning, but wants it to be a long run of success for them and their prized pitcher. Rizzo is not doing this to help ESPN's First Take and every D.C.-based talk show (thanks Rizz!).

He is going to do this because he and the doctors believe that this is the best course for a young pitcher's future, much like they did with Jordan Zimmerman. No matter what I or Screamin' A Smith or the girls on The View think, this is what Rizzo will do no matter how loud the noise gets.

For Starters, RGIII Did Not Stink

OK, let's get this out of the way. It is just preseason, with a small sample size. All that aside, Robert Griffin III looked like the real deal in week one of the preseason against the Buffalo Bills last week.

He was comfortable in the pocket and in control of the offense. He did not play too fast like lots of rookies tend to do. He was able to make his reads and deliver the ball. He showed off his strong arm. He also seems to have good chemistry already with prized free agent wide receiver Pierre Garcon.

The other big plus from the Bills game was that he never got hit. The Redskins' patchwork offensive line kept him clean. As a matter of fact, RGIII admitted this week he has not been tackled since Baylor's bowl game last year.

Sooner or later, RGIII will have to run, get tackled, and yes, even sacked. He knows this and yes, the Redskins coaches are well aware of it, too. They would just prefer it does not happen until the games start to count.

The Redskins, despite the offensive line issues, are expected to give RGIII a little more work this week against Chicago, and then even more in preseason game number three against Indianapolis and Andrew Luck (who also did not suck).

So brace yourselves, 'Skins fans: sooner rather than later, RGIII is going to take off from the pocket and show off that world class speed and hopefully either get out of bounds or slide. The Redskins showed lots of interesting run plays involving the franchise quarterback during the open sessions of training camp over the last few weeks. It will eventually be on display against defenses that want to welcome the star rookie endorser to the NFL. Let's just hope those EvoShield pads he's wearing is as good as advertised.