Well, well, well. Bully for Washington. Stephen Strasburg’s arrival in the Major Leagues was handled with more care than Tiger Woods’ return to golf. When the Washington brass passed on debuting Strasburg against the home run happy Reds and decided instead for the AAAA Pirates, they in essence put the ball in Strasburg’s court. I’d say he responded pretty well. What a debut, short of throwing a no-hitter I’m not sure what else the kid could have done. It was such an occasion that a major media conglomerate put together a round table immediately after the game featuring myself, Jim Nantz and Tim Kurkjian. The following is the transcript from that session. (If you can’t do the Kurkjian voice in your head, I’d just go ahead and skip the rest of this).
NANTZY: Welcome to the Nation’s Capital, folks. The cradle of government, but tonight that majesty draped cradle turned into the intersection of pomp and circumstance. Stephen Strasburg: Phenom. Savior. Faith healer. He took the mound tonight and toed the rubber of destiny, ultimately weaving a tapestry of excellence that will serve as championship fabric here in Washington D.C. We’ve assembled a terrific panel tonight to frame this historic scene.
ME: Easy Nantzy, this isn’t Butler Cabin?
Kurkjian: Jim, if I may interrupt. We continue to be involved in a downright historic baseball season. You might have to go all the way back to Fernando-mania to find a debut like the one Stephen Strasburg made tonight, and let me tell you something Fernando didn’t face any of this type of scrutiny. The funny thing is, Fernando featured a screwball, and do you know what the name of Strasburg’s girlfriend’s pet chihuahua is?
Kurkjian: You guessed it!
NANTZY: So Fernando then. Is that where the comparisons start? The grand Mexican warrior, riding his burro into the hostile seas of Los Angeles, captivating a frenzied, starving city with wins and flair do we see that type of personality with Strasburg? Are we on the verge of Strasburg-Mania?
ME: It probably depends on how good he is with Twitter.
Kurkjian: Did you know the symbol of Twitter is a bird? That reminds me of Mark “the Bird” Fidrych who exploded onto the baseball scene in 19 hundred and 76. Now Fidrych was no Stephen Strasburg, and he CERTAINLY didn’t have these types of quality pitches, but you talk about impressive debuts. The Bird was right up there. Did you know he was a Massachusetts kid? The home of another Bird. Larry, who incidentally is not on Twitter.
NANTZY: So, I’ve heard Fidrych, I’ve heard Valenzuela. Both interesting ways to frame the latest and greatest development in the pastime of our nation, we heard just moments ago that President Obama wants Stephen Strasburg to throw a fastball into the leaking oil well in the Gulf, Mr. 3PT, are we overstating things? Where would you rate this debut?
ME: On a scale of Carlos Carrasco to Brett Myers, I’d give it a Brandon Duckworth.
NANTZY: I’m sensing you weren’t that impressed, that the magnitude of the magnificence missed its mark.
ME: Nice alliteration Nantzy, and don’t get me wrong 100 mph is a great thing but he went 0-2. And Pittsburgh is probably the 3rd or 4th best team Strasburg has faced this year. Have you seen the Altoona Curve play at all? They’re doing things up there, but impressed? I haven’t been impressed with something in baseball since Jessica Biel got out of the pool in Summer Catch.
NANTZY: Ladies and Gentlemen, we seem to have diverging opinions here. The only thing left to do is to go deeper into this. That’s what she said. Kurkjian, what else do you have for us?
Kurkjian: Well, Jim, I just spoke to “Cowboy” Pete “3-Knuckle” Brown who not only works for Elias Sports Bureau, but also is an advance scout in the Brewers organization, and was Strasburg’s kindergarten teacher. He told me that no one has struck out this many hitters in a big league debut since James Rodney Richard struck out 15 in 1971. Now you want to talk about a power pitcher, no one was more fearsome, or more ferocious than J.R. Richard.
NANTZY: J.R. Richard, fascinating stuff Tim. Mr. 3PT, who have you spoken to since the final out in this masterpiece was recorded, since the ultimate vision of Abner Doubleday was realized right before our eyes on this pristine evening?
ME: Well, Jim, let me check the old call log here. First I called my bookie and told him I wanted to pound the Lake Show in the 2nd quarter. Then, I got a text from Charlie Manuel that said, “Well I mean, you know, I mean 14 punch outs is pretty good ya know, but you know one game is just that, and we’ll hit. I know we’ll hit, but you know that’s a pretty good start to a career or a season you know. So, I’d say good for Stroudsburg, the only thing is you know, I probably would have had him throw more pitches.”
NANTZY: Tim Kurkjian any concern that Strasburg was overworked tonight?
Kurkjian: Look Fellas, this is a young kid, and he’s got a great pitcher’s frame. The last thing you need to worry about is pitch count. The five greatest right-handed power pitchers of all-time are without a doubt, Walter Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Christy Matthewson and Tom Seaver. In their careers they averaged, AVERAGED 138 pitches per start. All this talk of pitch counts, saving arms, and everything else, there are some scouts out there I talk to that think it’s all just a big waste of time.
ME: There’s also some scouts that sit in the stands, drink and eat peanuts all night, what are you getting at?
Kurkjian: Well I’m glad you asked, because I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re all sitting here again in 15 years talking about the career of Stephen Strasburg and I’ll say, there’s only been four players in history of baseball who had the same first and last initial and still went on to be multiple World Champions those players are, Mickey Mantle, Don Drysdale, Rariano Rivera and you guessed it…Stephen Strasburg. I’m Tim Kurkjian, ESPN.
ME: If I’m back here in fifteen years with you guys, I’m going to throw myself in front of a subway train.
NANTZY: Well folks, on that note I think we’ll call it night from here in the hallowed nooks and crannies of the District of Columbia.
ME(Interrupting): What the f*ck does does District of Columbia mean, anyway? I’m serious, I have no idea.
NANTZY: Right, well as I was saying good night to everyone in Tivo Land. I want to thank our guests tonight, Mr. 3PT and Tim Kurkjian for their analysis, but most of all I want to thank Stephen Strasburg, the young Californian with the pre-gun shot Roy Hobbs arm and broad back that is going to carry the historied Washington Nationals nee Expos to the highest of high baseball heights. Goodnight, and stay classy Northern Virginia.