A National Treasure
The hype machine was rolling. The baseball world was on pause. Nationals fans were bitiing their nails. Everybody was awaiting Stephen Strasburg’s first Major League start to see if he can give a glimpse of the greatness all the scouts promised he would become. Not since LeBron James’ rookie year has the media machine been in such a craze. When the dust settled Strasburg more than lived up to the hype, he surpassed it. I think it’s safe to say Strasburg put on a relatively better opening performance than even King James did.
Stephen Strasburg pitched 7 strong innings and was nothing short of extraordinary. He faced 24 batters striking out 14 and walking none. He threw 94 total pitches, 65 of which went for strikes. Strasburg did have a small hiccup in the 4th inning giving up a two run homer. After the home run it seemed like Strasburg told himself nobody else will hit a pitch because seemingly nobody else hit a pitch. He struck out the last 7 batters he faced. He was still throwing in high 90’s in the 7th inning. He broke the Nationals record for strikeouts in his first start. The kid was amazing.
Although Strasburg’s on field performance was phenomenal, I was more impressed with what I saw off the field. Nationals Park was packed. They were selling standing room only seats and people were buying. After every pitch, every strikeout the crowd was roaring. You would have thought it was a Yankees/Red Sox playoff game. That was something the Nationals front office has been waiting on since moving to DC. There were reports that they were running out of Strasburg merchandise it was flying off the stands so fast. Strasburg Mania is alive in Washington.
Being from DC I know that if you give the fans here any kind of hope to hold on to and they will support their sports teams blindly. Strasburg is the baseball hope. Not to mention the Nationals drafted the slugging phenom, Bryce Harper, Monday night. Combine that with Alexander the Great in hockey, McNabb and Shannahan in football, and the possibilty of drafting John Wall in basketball and the DC sports scene looks like it is headed away of the bottom of the standings for long time to come.