Stephen Strasburg makes MLB debut with Washington Nationals, Strikes Out 14 in Seven Innings
Stephen Strasburg’s 14-strikeout debut performance for the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night didn’t just meet expectations, it took those expectations out on a date, romanced them, and then married the expectations in a lavish beachside ceremony attended by Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand.
Never before has a player started a game with more hype and then lived up to it in such grand fashion. And that’s not hyperbole; Strasburg was the most anticipated prospect to make his debut in this hyper-covered world of the 24-7 sports news cycle. The closest approximation to Strasburg’s debut is that of LeBron James, but James debuted in 2003, which seems like eons ago in terms of technology and news coverage.
After last night’s game in Washington, in which Stephen Strasburg debuted by dominating the Pirates for seven innings - his 14 strikeouts with no walks were the most by a pitcher not issuing any free passes in a game since Johan Santana’s 17-K game in 2007 for the Twins - today brings a test: How do you react to this list?
YOUNGEST PITCHERS WITH 10+ K IN DEBUT, SINCE 1960
Dave Morehead, Red Sox at Senators, 4/13/63 - 20 years, 220 days (9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 10 K)
Rudy May, Angels vs. Tigers, 4/18/65 - 20 years, 274 days (9 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 10 K)
J.R. Richard, Astros at Giants, 9/5/71 - 21 years, 182 days (9 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 15 K)
Mark Prior, Cubs vs. Pirates, 5/22/02 - 21 years, 257 days (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 10 K)
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals vs. Pirates, 6/8/10 - 21 years, 323 days (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 14 K)
Boiling excitement all along the Potomac could scarcely be contained even before rush hour had its legs. Something pretty urgent is going on when you're bumping into celebrities three hours before a June baseball game.
Ken Burns, Scott Boras, celebrated saxophonist Jaared, Sandra Bullock.
All right, not Sandra Bullock, but who would have been surprised?
Actually, Jaared was behind the plate at beautiful No Naming Rights Stadium in the 4 o'clock hour practicing the national anthem, which is an occasional gig here in his hometown. Jaared's toured in South Africa, Austria, Germany, Poland, Dubai and elsewhere, but this was the date he was hoping to line up.
It was the first major league pitch of Stephen Strasburg's career -- 97 mph fastball, inside, ball one -- the dawning of a new era for the Nationals franchise, and the spectacular collision of two of the most powerful forces today: a once-in-a-generation baseball phenom and the assembled might of the media hype machine in the Internet age.