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The flight of Stephen Strasburg

Long statistical oriented articles are for geeks like me, so buckle up for the long term forecast of Washington National rookie demigod Stephen Strasburg.

Long statistical oriented articles are for geeks like me, so buckle up for the long term forecast of Washington National rookie demigod Stephen Strasburg. What looks like a sure thing can turn into wiener water soup with one elbow injury or an inability to deal with the endless scrutiny of the fans and media. Expect growing pains.

Strasburg has the physical and mental makeup of a seasoned veteran and the arm of an Iranian nuclear missile launcher, but his keys to Cooperstown shouldn't be handed over just yet. His long awaited arrival to the MLB was an amazing example of his phenomenal tools and the sad sack Pittsburgh Pirates were left waving at his 101 MPH heaters like crosseyed drunks at anIndian Headslo-pitch tournament.

His real test will come when Albert Pujols or Joe Mauer is drooling in the batter's box and sitting on his fastball grinning like a minor in a liquor store. To Strasburg's credit he compliments his gas with a devastating curve ball that leaves you flailing at balls like those spots you used to have in your eyes before cataract surgery.

Strasburg is not the first fireballer with an unlimited ceiling for success and the litany of names that arrived with similar fanfare only to fall upon hard times is a tale of broken dreams, alcoholism and psychiatric care - and that's only describes the parents of the players, who failed to put them in mansions and Cadillac SUVs.

The first name that comes to mind is ex-Cub protégé Mark Prior whose potential was compared to Hall of Famers like Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson only to fall victim to arm troubles that have him out of baseball.

Prior's famous right arm now hangs limply at his side and he is forced to eat his pizza as a southpaw and look for work in the real world. Prior struck out 757 batters in just 657 career innings and, for a few years, looked like a world-beater until the disabled list became his permanent address. Most young hurlers go through their struggles as duly noted by such talented chuckers as Justin Verlander, who has sandwiched several strong seasons with a clunker in 2008.

One of most dominant lefties to ever take the mound simply stunk for his first six years. Sandy Koufax finished his brilliant career with six seasons as an untouchable force.

The point is nothing is guaranteed and even the endless hype of the latest Washington draft pick Bryce Harper is a crapshoot.

Harper has hit 9,000 homers in high school and college and is expected to be a holy terror at the MLB level when so many of his ilk have fizzled out like a bad marriage. Sometimes your wife can't cook or she writes her own name on the walls of the men's bathroom and other times she just looks good in uniform. Harper has the tools, but does he have the stones to endure the inevitable ups and downs of a marathon MLB year.

He certainly looks good in a uniform, but until he battles against the world's best he will be just another bridesmaid.

Harper might be a huge success, but then again a few short years ago the Kansas City Royals boasted the arrival of the next George Brett in third sacker Alex Gordon. He not only can't cook, but he can't hit at the Major League level either.

My gut feeling on youngsters like Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and David Price of the Rays are making me feel like a genius right now - that is until their arms fly right off their sockets and they are living in small town squalor with memories of what might have been.

There is always hope, but without luck and indestructible elbow tendons, even the most lauded of prospects can become yet another ghost in the annals of baseball lore.