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Let Joan Adon Chase Immortality, You Cowards

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 07: Joan Adon #60 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch during the second inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on June 07, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Eric Espada/Getty Images

In the hilariously long history of the major leagues, lots of pitchers have done what Joan Adon was chasing. But the promising 23-year-old righthander toiling in the service of the screw-it-we’ll-try-to-win-in-2028 Washington Nationals was off to a dandy start in pursuit of becoming the first person since the sainted Detroit Tiger Mike Maroth in 2003 to lose 20 games. And even though wins and losses are now regarded as frivolities rather than dispositive evidence of a pitcher’s true value, this is a potential record without opprobrium, which in English means “No big deal.”

But it was enough of a big deal that, after he was shelled Tuesday for his 10th loss of this barely-a-third-over season, the Nats sent him down to Rochester to restore his confidence and slider, thus robbing Nats fans and really, fans of all teams, shapes, sizes, and ages, of something to root for. And I know what you ill-bred louts in the comments section will say, that a man’s struggles should not be a source of other people’s amusement, but you knew this was going to contain a level of bastardy when you saw the byline. We want Adon to lose the 20, then win Comeback Player of the Year and eventually be World Series MVP with the first team we can find whose principal owner isn’t a revolting hyena. And we apologize to the International Brotherhood of Hyenas for the comparison.

But the 20 matters because 20 decisions of either kind, wins or losses, are among the dying arts of a changing game. Too many openers, too many pitch counts, too many quick hooks—it all adds up. Adon had a chance to be special here, but now the opportunity may be lost unless Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez do the right thing and return him to his rightful place in the rotation between the 2-8 Patrick Corbin and the 6-4 Josiah Gray. They must remove the shameful “Undecided” in their probable pitchers list to reinstall Adon, and if not Sunday against Milwaukee, then next Friday for one of the two games of a doubleheader against Philadelphia.

It is the contention of this website, which is your source for all nonsensical bullshit like this, that Adon is someone we can all root for as he pursues baseball’s version of post-modernist immortality. Hell, before he was sent down he was on pace to lose 29 and join a magnificent cast that includes Egyptian Healy, Tricky Nichols, Pud Galvin, Silver King, and Hank O’Day, the last of whom eventually stopped pitching, became a manager and eventually a Hall of Fame umpire. Now that’s committing to the bit.

But all of them lost their 29 games before the turn of the last century, when pitching rotations were largely comprised of “You there.” Our guy Pud lost his 29 games in a year in which he won 46 and completed 72 of his 75 starts, so there are clearly contexts to this thing. Adon’s context would be that he served selflessly on a team not trying to win, and did his damnedest anyway.

Not that that’s necessarily a reward-earning mechanism. But it’s also not a death sentence. Maroth got two more full seasons in Detroit, then was traded in 2004 for a PTBNL and eventually became a pitching coach in the Braves organization, including a year with the gloriously named Florida Fire Frogs. Roger Craig lost 24 and 22 in successive seasons with the brand-new Mets and eventually had to become a renowned pitching coach and manager to polish his resume. Losing a lot doesn’t mean you are necessarily doomed in baseball—it often means you just become an old guy telling young guys that losing 20 wasn’t so bad.

And some guys got multiple shots at it, like Ice Box Chamberlain and Pretzels Getzein and Toad Ramsey and Old Hoss Radbourn. This could be the start of Joan Adon’s march to glory. He just needs to be allowed to re-enter the march.

So as loath as we are to promote the minor accomplishments of young folks just starting their life’s journeys, free Joan Adon. Allow him to pursue his destiny. How else can he be become the next Candy Cummings, Pink Hawley, or Kid Gleason? Hell, Gleason ended up managing the 1919 Black Sox and was played in the movies by John Mahoney. Why wouldn’t we want that for Joan Adon?