Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Just how big was the debut of Stephen Strasburg last night?
It was so big that an image of Jesus appeared on the screen!
Wait, no, that actually is Strasburg. Sorry. Around here, it's been somewhat hard to tell the difference over the past couple of weeks. And I think the only reason Nationals fans might be able to be convinced that Jesus and Strasburg aren't the same person, is that Jesus would have thrown a perfect game. Or in the very least, a shut-out.
But it was an amazing night. Whatever rationalizations people used for why they just had to see Strasburg debut, as they paid inflated prices for tickets to StubHub, scalpers, or the team itself, I have to think that the experience justified them. I've never seen Nats Park or RFK go as nuts as it did last night. Honest to God, I don't even think John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang striking out someone in a World Series game the Nats were playing in, would cause as much sheer delirium as Stephen Strasburg striking out Lastings Milledge did.
I always hate this word as a way of describing excitement because, well...it's usually kind of a gross image. But Nats Park was positively orgasmic last night.
And I think a lot of the credit for that goes to the decision to leave Strasburg in for seven innings. All season, we've heard that the Nats are going to make a point of limiting how much Strasburg pitches this year, so expectations weren't high. Five innings would have pissed the crowd off. Six innings would have been acceptable, but not much more. But seven innings? That seemed to make pretty much everyone happy.
But seriously, how big was Strasburg's debut?
It was so big that well before the gates opened, even though there were no t-shirt or bobblehead giveaways to entice early arrivals, there was a decent-sized crowd aimlessly milling about outside Nats Park. It had a distinct Dawn of the Dead vibe to it.
It was so big that a 1960s paparazzo seems to have traveled through time to 2010 in order to attend the game!
It was so big that hundreds of people paused to watch Strasburg stretch. Not warm up his arm. Not take batting practice. Stretch.
It was so big that there was more media there than at the White House. There was the national media on the field, and outside the park, local reporters were circling around like sharks. If you stood in one place for too long or, God help you, made eye contact with someone holding a microphone, you probably ended up on TV last night.
It was so big that for once, even the Nat Pack wasn't annoying!
No, that's not true. They were more annoying than ever. I guess even the power of Strasmas has its limits. I mean, I get that they're sort of a necessary evil, in that the team needs someone to fire t-shirts out of an air cannon into the crowd between innings. But still. In the very least, I wish they'd give the blonde chick a Valium before each game. No one should be that peppy.
It was so big that diets were suspended!
It was so big that Ken Burns threw out the ceremonial first pitch! DC101's Elliot In the Morning was picked to officially start the game! A saxophone player named Jaared--no, I didn't forget his last name or throw in a superfluous letter A; it really is just Jaared--played the National Anthem!
Yeah, I don't get the thinking behind two out of the three, either.
It was so big that the Nationals Dream Foundation booth had a sign up announcing that Strasburg-used balls (heh) could be purchased for $100 each. I guess the money's going to charity, but wait, here's a better idea: Rather than raise ticket prices to cover whatever obscene amount of money Scott Boras is going to demand for Bryce Harper, why not put this extra revenue from Strasburg's balls (heh) towards that? I mean, charity's nice and all, but like children, sometimes it needs to be left to fend for itself in order to mature, you know?
Incidentally, see the Elijah Dukes jersey in the corner? It's autographed. And only $75. Which is $25 less than an un-autographed Strasburg jersey in the team store. And yet, oddly unwanted. (I know what you're probably thinking: Maybe $75 is how much the Nats are willing to pay whoever takes the jersey off their hands? But no, I checked.)
It was so big that thousands of people, many of whom probably couldn't give a rat's ass about baseball before now, are fans. Of Strasburg, anyway, if not the Nats. But I have a feeling that'll change.
It was so big that now that all the questions regarding whether Strasburg would live up to the hype have been answered, just one question remains: Exactly how much is a WTOP Strasburg rookie card worth?