Let the Stephen Strasburg hype machine begin.
Michael Jordan coming back to the NBA and signing with the Wizards was just a drop in the bucket.
Alexander Ovechkin didn’t brew anywhere near this kind of hype and status in his early days with the Capitals.
Joe Gibbs returning to coach the Washington Redskins wasn’t even this big.
In fact, the only story in the nation’s capital that could top the arrival of Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg is President Obama himself – upon being elected the first black president in the history of the country.
Sure, it’s not a fair comparison to tie in politics with sports, but let’s face it – D.C. is as passionate about their politics as they are about their sports franchises.
That’s what brings us to the big day… Tuesday June 8th, where the wait is over for Nats fans… for Washington D.C…. and for the game of baseball.
The talented triple-digit fireballer is here – making his debut at Nationals Park against Jeff Karstens and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Once the news became official, the game sold out in two hours.
So now that Strasburg’s time is here, the question remains as to whether the hype is worth it.
Well, is it?
Many critics may chime in to say no way – but I beg to differ.
It is worth it, and I truly believe that, even after hearing about and watching Mark Prior as he put an early stamp on the game of baseball – dominating daily for the Cubs – until it all came crashing down.
It’s a fair realization to understand that baseball can be a fragile game – that injuries can and do occur.
It’s also fair to point out that the major league level is a big difference from AAA – and that even after posting gaudy minor league numbers (7-2, 1.30 ERA, 65 K’s in 55 1/3 IP across AA and AAA), that doesn’t mean Strasburg will be an instant hit.
In fact, he could be instantly hit upon.
Yes, even that 100mph heater, too.
But the hype is deserved and it’s legitimate, because for a long period of time, Strasburg was presented as the consensus top pick in the draft – and that his stuff was so nasty, that he would force his way to the majors sooner rather than later.
That statement has held true.
The hype is also necessary and deserved because no one else in the nation’s capital has been able to steal away the spotlight from Strasburg.
The Redskins have underachieved in recent seasons, and while the McNabb-Shanahan combo has brought excitement, neither has played a game. D.C. has no proof that the duo will bring new life. There’s fear that they could instead be the next in a long line of hyped up disappointments.
The Presidents Trophy winning Capitals have upped their game during the NHL regular season, but underachieved in the postseason.
The Wizards won the lottery, but John Wall is still just a pipe dream, and not a talent signed and ready to play. That, plus the Arenas gun story still continues to leave a dark cloud over the D.C. pro hoops world.
That leaves the Nationals – a team that since returning to the nation’s capital as the “artist formerly known as the Montreal Expos”. This newer DC baseball franchise still hasn’t posted a winning season (since its debut in 2005).
Enter some significant improvement in 2010, with a record near the .500 mark as the midway point approaches. Then toss in the most hyped pitcher in the game in Stephen Strasburg.
So that’s the reason for the hype – because Strasburg can flat out pitch and because no one else can steal the hype away.
Now it leaves the question as to how the kid will perform with the entire country watching?
My take is Stephen Strasburg will put in a quality start against the Pirates, and be a serviceable starter as the season continues. He won’t put up gaudy Ubaldo-like numbers yet. But he will continue to grow and Washington D.C. will love their brand spankin’ new franchise player.
And after that… fans will open their arms again for another can’t-miss guy in Bryce Harper (drafted by the Nationals with the top pick in the 2010 MLB Draft).
Well, that is… if they can manage to sign him.
But for now, the spotlight is all on Strasburg.
“Get your popcorn ready.”
Ha ha, so I imagine then you saw my poll and voted that way… in regards to Boston and New York as a future destination…. sad, but the same thing crossed my mind. No doubt though, Washington will try and hang on to this kid as long as they can…
Well, while he has crazy talent… I’d tend to be more laid back on the Nolan Ryan comparisons. I want to see how he handles the first season, and how teams adjust to him when they start to find out his tendencies, etc.
The kid was lights out. And lucky for him he also got the win. Its a long season and he’s got a ways to go. He’ll be something to watch over the season and really the coming years. You have to wonder though, if he keeps it up will he still be with Washington down the road. I see New York or Boston in his future if he keeps doing well.
Yeah, you’re right… and that’s exactly what the Nats did tonight. They were careful with him and had him on a pitch count. Damn, he was good though tonight… so dominate, especially when striking out the last seven betters. If they kept him in longer, he no doubt would have set the record for number of K’s in a debut.
For as much hype that goes out there in sports in every situation during this day and age… I have to say… I think Strasburg lived up to it, at least tonight he did. 14 K’s? Lights out… unreal performance. Now we’ll see how the kid does as the season progresses. Hitters will start to figure him out some, but his stuff was nasty tonight.
Those that do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. From what I’ve read, the Nationals are going to be as careful as possible with this kids’s arm and their future. Mark Prior’s career can be pointed to as a powerful lesson about patience.
Great post my friend.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Strasburg got hit hurt. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he were to win. I mean its the Pirates, who for once aren’t in last place in their division. This kid is all hype, minors are totallt different than the majors. I just hope he doesn’t try to hard to live up to all these expectations. It’s when they try to hard that it all goes to hell.