Strasburg's spring training debut on MASN
Stephen Strasburg threw 27 pitches in his Spring Training debut, but only 15 were strikes. This is March, the time for ruby optimism on emerald chessboards filled with sapphire kings, so forget about those pesky balls. Here's one nugget for each of the 15 Strassy strikes that were shown live on MASN.
"Welcome to Viera, Florida, and the most eagerly anticipated spring training game in Nationals history," Bob Carpenter said at the top of the broadcast.
That would make it more anticipated than the first game in the team's first season, before the stink of back-to-back 100-loss seasons had descended from the heavens.
Hold up hold up, ruby optimism. What am I thinking?
MASN had originally planned to broadcast four games each for the O's and Nats, but "given the significant interest, MASN decided to add a fifth Nationals preseason game," a spokesman explained. Thus, for a certain portion of the world, time stood still at 1 p.m.
Well, maybe at 1:06 p.m. At 1 p.m,. MASN was showing a fan wandering into Space Coast Stadium wearing a Red Sox hat. Go watch your own damn prospects. There was also some guy in a prominent seat wearing an SDSU sweatshirt. The only way he gets a pass on that is if he's related.
"I talked to him yesterday, and he said I just want to go pitch," pitching coach Steve McCatty told Rob Dibble before the debut. "He doesn't like all the attention he's getting. He says I haven't proved anything yet, I just want to get out on the mound and pitch."
Still with the "he doesn't like all the attention he's getting" routine? Ordinarily, MASN might be a fine place to avoid the spotlight, but the kid better get used to some attention. Just be thankful he wasn't drafted by the Redskins.
The First Pitch
The first pitch was a ball.
"A BALL!!!!!!! HE IS A WASH," @tradepolicyguy tweeted.
The second pitch was another ball.
"Strasburg falls behind 2-0 on first hitter. BUST!" @xmasape tweeted.
The batter wound up grounding out.
"No strikeout??? He's a bum!!!!" @needham_chris tweeted.
After two groundball outs, Rob Dibble finally was back.
"And that's the reason why this kid's so special, because you can throw nothing but fastballs all day, even to Major League hitters, get behind 2-0, and whether you make a mistake or not, you could get away with it, and induce two ground balls right there by the first two hitters he's ever faced on the Tigers," he said.
The First Inning
The first inning ended 1-2-3. "You know what, he'll pitch a lot of years if he gets nothing but ground balls," Carpenter said as MASN went to break. "Stephen Strasburg's first inning, a rousing, three-ground ball success."
The sort of moment you want to freeze for all time, just in case anything goes wrong in the future. Like, Wednesday or something.
"On pace for a 0.00 career ERA, which would the lowest in history," Kevin Kaduk from Big League Stew noted.
And yet, with perfection in his grasp, #RIPBiggie and Biggie Smalls were both trending ahead of "Strasburg" in D.C. He should feel fortunate he's not a dead rapper if he doesn't like attention.
And by the top of the second, GM Mike Rizzo was in the booth. His team, you might recall, entered the day with a zero at the start of its record.
"The won-loss record really has no affect on us," he said, which is as good a way to spin that as any.
"I think the uniqueness of Stephen Strasburg is he's a big-armed guy with feel to pitch," Rizzo said. "He's got great dexterity in his fingers, and he can add and subtract."
Hey, that's more than my three-year old daughter can do. Though she can do a bang-up job counting to 10. Match that, wonder boy.
One of Strasburg's favorite pitches is a slurve, a hybrid slider/curve. You're going to hear that word a lot in the next decade. It's technically a portmanteau, a blend of two different words. Other examples include brunch, spork, blaxploitation, TomKat, Snovechkin, Snyderrato and Strasburgeddon.
"Natinals" is not technically a portmanteau, but I suppose "Natinalism" could be.
One of Strasburg's first slurves was of the knee--buckling variety. "Oooooof," you could hear someone say in the booth, and that was indeed the proper response. This is the ideal time to use the word "filthy" in water-cooler conversation.
"I think the Tigers are a great example of a ball club that went through some very difficult time with young players," Carpenter observed as Strasburg worked in the second. "You think back to them losing a 100 games, a couple of years later they're in the playoffs, in '06 they're in the World Series."
"Certainly," Rizzo agreed. "They had several down seasons, but [Dave Dombrowski] stuck to The Plan and they made good prudent decisions and reaped the benefits of it in relatively quick fashion."
Look, if they're ever going to get a pass for ruby optimism, this was the day. So there's no chance of me pointing out that the Tigers haven't been back to the playoffs since.
"Free and Easy"
"I thought the ball was coming out free and easy," Manager Jim Riggleman told MASN after Strasburg finished off his second scoreless inning. Sounds like something you tell your urologist, but I guess that's a good thing.
Watch this video. The pitch is filthy as the gunk under your refrigerator. And the man behind the plate who punches out Brent Dlugach is my hero.
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