Being a big baseball fan can be hard sometimes because loving the sport means doing a lot of waiting. Love Mariano Rivera? Gotta wait until the ninth inning to see him. Love the Cubs? Gotta wait 102 years (and counting…) for them to win it all. Love the Red Sox? Gotta wait a lifetime to afford a ticket at Fenway Park.
Waiting. That’s what baseball fans have been doing with Stephen Strasburg ever since he was drafted first by the Washington Nationals in last year’s draft. We waited for him to sign, and he finally did. We waited for him to play in the minors, and he dominated. And we waited for him to make his major league debut.
Lots of times the waiting doesn’t pay off. But at least for one night Stephen Strasburg rewarded Nats fans, and baseball fans with a performance that was absurdly brilliant.
He struck out 14 batters, the most in a debut since 1971, including every single player in the Pirates starting lineup. He didn’t walk anyone. He breezed through seven innings and looked like he could have pitched 14. He threw 100 miles per hour with movement. His change-ups were clocked at 91, faster than some pitchers throw their fastballs.
But more than that, he looked ready. He belonged. The humidity in DC can be suffocating. But every time Strasburg took the mound he looked like he could control weather systems. He was cool, relaxed, he trusted his stuff.
He was simply amazing.
As an Orioles fan I want to be jealous and annoyed and frustrated that every other team seems to pick right during the draft. (Especially when I know that while Strasburg is wowing in DC my team is getting destroyed by the Yankees in Baltimore.) But I can’t be upset because he was just so impressive.
Some people want to compare him to Roger Clemens. Others want to compare him to Kerry Wood. But neither seems fair. Strasburg did more last night then just have a stunning debut performance at a young age. He changed the face of the Nationals and of baseball in DC.
And he proved that some things are worth the wait.