The Washington Nationals made the same mistake that nearly all dieters and smokers make in their lives.
Dieters who announce to the world that they are on a diet humiliate themselves when they indulge in food. Smokers who brag that they are quitting look weak when they grab a cigarette.
The best strategy is to simply try to cut back on the food intake, or smoking, bit by bit and not publicize the work in progress much.
No doubt the Nats set this limit at the beginning of the season, when Washington was looked upon as an improving team on the verge of contention. Preserve Strasburg's arm for a year and be ready to contend in 2013 would seem to have been the plan.
According to The Washington Post, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said back in February, “We’re going to run him out there until his innings are gone and then stop him from pitching.”
The problem is the contention arrived a year too soon. It was 2012 that turned out to be the year all of Washington was waiting for. Nobody predicted the fall of both the Marlins and the Phillies this season.
So, now the Nationals are going to look a little silly no matter what they do with Strasburg. If they stick to the innings limit, they will look stubborn. If they stretch his innings out, they look like the person sneaking a smoke or a brownie.
If Rizzo did not say anything back in Viera, Fla., this spring, nobody would be talking about this now.
You do not announce a diet, quitting smoking or setting innings limits. When you do, you're just setting yourself up for a negative reaction from your peers.