Strasburg to the All-Star game?
By the day after Stephen Strasburg's first start, Mike Francesca was discussing on New York radio waves what it would take for Strasburg to start in the All-Star Game. By last weekend, according to Capitol Punishment, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were discussing what it would take for Strasburg to at least be named to the roster. And by the day after his second start, one columnist was saying it was already a done deal.
"Bank on it," wrote Ray Ratto in the San Francisco Chronicle. Strasburg, bear in mind, has played in two games. So, why should we bank on him being in Anaheim, not all that far from his hometown, next month? More Ratto:
Because it's buzz. And because the All-Star Game needs all the TV ratings help it can get. And because there are 34 spots on the team, and when you have almost 10 percent of the league's employees available and someone has to be a National, well, there you are.
Someone has to be a National? Well, what about the guy who's 10th in the NL in batting average, 6th in on-base percentage, 6th in slugging and 3rd in OPS
OBP? Mightn't he have a shot?
Anyhow, Ratto suggested that "a bunch of league officials and other low-level buttinskys" will pressure NL manager Charlie Manuel to select Strasburg, and that "even if Manuel thinks this is a bad idea, he'll be overruled by some marketing yutz who has a master plan for moving "Natstown" shmata."
And you know what? The marketing yutz would be absolutely justified. People will turn on the television to watch one inning of Strasburg, and that helps everyone. If you haven't already, check out Jayson Stark's ESPN.com piece about Strasburg's meaning to the Nats. This is the best part:
Before Strasburg burst through their door, the Nationals were 14th in their league in attendance this year, ahead of only the Marlins and Pirates. They were 12th last year. They were 13th in 2008 -- the season their beautiful new ballpark opened. So this was a group about as unfamiliar with the concept of in-stadium electricity as any team in baseball.
"I can remember one day last year, where we had about a three-hour rain delay against the Braves," Dunn reminisced, not so fondly. "I think I counted 73 people in the stands. So that was pretty un-electric."...
Just so you know what we're seeing here, there isn't a lot of precedent for one 21-year-old baseball player single-handedly performing CPR on a once-moribund franchise. But we're seeing it here, if those 35,607 extra bodies Strasburg has put in the seats in two games (compared with the previous average attendance in D.C. and Cleveland) tells us anything.
"That just doesn't happen," Kasten said, "in this sport."
Not usually, which is why they should let Strasburg give a jolt or two of life to the All-Star Game.
(Thanks to ESPN 980's Sports Reporters for the Ratto link.)
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