STEPHEN STRASBURG: THE NEW WASHINGTON MONUMENT?
By Harold Bell
Washington D.C. is home to some of the world’s most visited landmarks. The Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian and Vietnam Wall are heralded across the globe and attract millions annually.
We can now add another monument: National’s Park, the new home of Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg made his long awaited debut at home Tuesday evening. Nobody left disappointed.
The pitching phenomenon struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates in seven innings. Washington walked away with a 5-2 win while Strasburg strolled off the mound with the hearts and minds of the city.
Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was one of the most feared hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. He played 20 years for the San Diego Padres and retired in 2001 with a career batting average of 338. He now serves as the baseball coach at San Diego State. Strasburg was the pitching ace on his staff before leaving for the baseball draft last year.
It is anybody’s guess how many times the teacher (Gwynn) took the student (Strasburg) to school during his stay on campus. I can see Gwynn getting in the batting cage and saying “Let me see what you got kid.” Gwynn was in attendance with forty thousand plus (a sell out) to see his prize pupil make his Major League debut.
One Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell said “There are shutouts, high strikeout games and, almost certainly, no-hitters ahead of this man.” I think that is setting sights a little high for the young man. He has enough pressure on him as is and now he reads or hears some columnist is setting his goals for him.
It is no surprise everyone is jumping on “The Strasburg Band Wagon” trying to figure out a way to make a buck or improve their ratings. From all indications Strasburg memorabilia will run off the shelves if he wins his next two outings.
Major League Baseball is looking for a savior after the gambling antics of Pete Rose, steroids use by Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and a host of others who have given the game a bad name. Baseball needs Strasburg.
There are some DC restaurants who have already gone overboard and are selling a sandwich called the Strasburg-burger that includes a hot dog and two beef patties on a bun and your choice of Tums or Pepto-Bismol for $10.99.
Major league baseball players who hit for a living are some pretty smart guys and will be watching as much tape on Strasburg as possible. What makes Strasburg the possible next coming of Walter Johnson? He has a fastball that tops 100 miles per hour and a slider that looks like it just fell off the table when it come out of his hand.
We must remember he is just 21 years old and the new kid on the block. I think the ace he has in the hole is veteran catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez behind the plate as his guiding light.
The Nationals are just getting started. They recently drafted this year’s number one player in the country, taking 17 year old power hitting Bryce Harper. This young man is also a special kind of player.
I think Washington Post columnist Mike Wise summed up it up best when he said, “Something about boy kings fixing franchises really gets us going in Washington. And when we can’t find a golden child, a retired legend like Mike Shanahan is coaxed out of retirement and he becomes hope. Until we turn on him, like we have turned on others.”
Wise forgot to mention the Redskin’s new savior ex-Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb. The fans and news media turned on him his entire NFL career in the City of Brotherly Love. McNabb is a little long in the tooth to be considered a whiz kid, but a savior never the less.
Strasburg is must see baseball in D.C. from this day forth but McNabb versus the Eagles will be the must see game in the NFL.
How can we forget Kwame Brown drafted right out of high school by Michael Jordan and the NBA Washington Wizards? They failed to meet expectations of an NBA Championship and they both were run out of town.
Wise also said, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Strasburg was paid more than $15 million dollars and Harper will probably break the bank with his asking price. Strasburg has already set the table for him.
We may have another whiz kid who will be making his pro debut within the Beltway in a few months, John Wall. Wall is a guard out of the University of Kentucky. He is expected to be taken by the Washington Wizards who have the number one pick in the NBA draft.
Someone once said “Youth is wasted on the young.” Please don’t try telling that to the Washington Nationals and the Washington Wizards.