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Bob Costas: Strasburg debut "has no precedent"

(2009 photo by Charles Dharapak - AP)

Stephen Strasburg's debut will feature, among other acts of hoopla, both the Baseball Tonight set on site and a live broadcast on the MLB Network, with Bob Costas providing the call. CNBC's Darren Rovell is reporting that Strasmas day should be worth about $1.5 million to the franchise, from tickets to ticket packages to speculated ticket buys to concessions.

The Post will offer a Strasburg commemorative poster on Sunday, and CNN included Strasburg on its list of Tuesday's Intriguing People. (But behind Hall & Oates? Re-count!) So, as always, the question is compare this to other big debuts.

"In terms of hype and buildup, it has no precedent," Costas told me Tuesday morning before his production meeting. "Everything has changed so much just in the last few years. It's not just a 24/7 news cycle, but a 24/7 sports news cycle, including the reason why I'm here: MLB NEtwork. We're treating this like a football playoff game, with a full pregame show from the site.

"No matter how good the pitcher was, the circumstances didn't exist in the past for something quite like this in terms of buildup. In doing some research, one of the tihngs that struck me is even a guy like Dwight Gooden, I remember how anticipated his debut was was, and he debuts at the Astrodome in front of 18.000 people. Roger Clemens debuts in Cleveland in front of 4,000 people, and it wasn't like Clemens was an unknown, like a Fernando Valenzuela.

"When you look for historical precedents, there's really none. And the comparisons are all over the place. Juan Marichal pitched a one-hit shutout in his Major League debut with 12 strikeouts, but his contemporaries like Koufax, Bob Gibson, Jim Palmer all debuted in relief., inconspicuously. So did Greg Maddux. Al Worthington and Karl Spooner both pitched back-to-back shutouts in their first two Major League starts. If Strasburg does that, they'll have to build an annex to the back of the stadium first game....

"So who the hell knows? Maybe he goes out and gets the [stuffing] kicked out of him. I don't suggest the Nationals then trade him. And if he throws a no-hitter, I don't suggest they start minting his Hall of Fame plaque."

Costas said if the game plays out in a normal fashion, he'll likely drop at least one Big Train reference, and I encouraged him to also wish his viewers a Merry Strasmas. He said "the whole baseball world" will be watching this game. And he said he's happy that his part of the proceedings will involve actually watching and describing a baseball game, after all these months of hype.

"There's a difference between excitement and drama, and hype," Costas said. "And the one thing that we have that no one else has, even in this tidal wave of coverage, the one thing that only we have is the game itself. Certainly there's room for analysis, and there's plenty of room for all these little ironies and historical connections, but the one thing we have is the drama and the excitement of the moment. When he gets on the mound in that first inning, that's the story. It's an event. It's theater.

"I'm very excited, but with I hope some perspective on it. One game does not a season or career make, but there's no doubt that the whole baseball world is watching. You can be into something without losing all perspective on it. That's what I aim to be: into it without losing your mind in the process."

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 8, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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""So who the hell knows? Maybe he goes out and gets the [stuffing] kicked out of him."

Wow, Costas working blue. Who woulda thought?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 8, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

When one looks up the words "arrogant" and "pretentious" in the dictionary, Bob Costa's picture is there.

Posted by: poguesmahone | June 8, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

all of those references to other pitchers are a little stale...what were the relative attendances prior to those debuts? (not to mention the 24 hour news networks).

however, it's not entirely unprecedented...daisuke matsuzaka coming to the red sox was actually a pretty similar situation, all things considered. the red sox just seem to have a sell out wherever they go. does anyone know what the attendance was in kansas city when he made his debut? (i'm sure his boston debut was a sell out, though his MLB debut, if I'm not mistaken, was in KC)

Posted by: bacaje | June 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

What.., no sightings of TO out as RS Park?

Its still early I'm sure the Synder and his henchmen are cooking something up before Santa arrives on this Strasmas Day!

Oh yeah before I forget got a postcard from the B&G last week. Tonights a meet and greet with the new GM out at FEDEX, starts at 7PM, wonder if its gonna be standing room only too?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 8, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Bob Costas summarized today best in Baseketball:

"You're excited? Feel these nipples!"

Posted by: colerwilson | June 8, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

When one looks up the words "arrogant" and "pretentious" in the dictionary, Bob Costa's picture is there.

Posted by: poguesmahone | June 8, 2010 12:42 PM

Who's Bob Costa? He sounds like a jerk.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 8, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

What's frustrating to me is the hype-machine, and Costas cares because he is working for MLB Network which is hoping to make a buck.

Don't forget the lesson of David Clyde - hype does not equal success in baseball, more so than any other sport. We won't know if Strasburg is worth all this for another 6-7 years - too many injuries, etc can come up in the meantime.

Posted by: jesstyr | June 8, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It is a shame, we could hear Bob Costas call the game, but instead we get Rob Dibble. (the worst color analyst in baseball!)

Posted by: Burruano23 | June 8, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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