We’re headed to D.C. today to catch the Pittsburgh Pirates face Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. A lot has changed for the Nats since we were in our nation’s capital for Strasmas on June 8, 2010.
How can anyone forget that magical night for Strasburg?
Stephen Strasburg dominated during his Major League debut against the Bucs. It was a whiff fest, but he’s not been as impressive this season.
It’s hard to put into words just how electric Nationals Park was that night, so we dug up a few facts for you.
*More than 200 members of the press were credentialed for Strasburg’s Major League debut. About the same number for a League Championship Series game.
*More tickets were sold for this game at Nationals Park than for any other game in Nationals history.
*More than 165,000 households in the Washington region watched the game on TV. The highest viewing ever for any Nationals game.
It is amazing as to the impact of one player on a team, MLB and on a city. In Stephen Strasburg’s case his impact was felt around the country as well. It was the rarest of cases where the performance far exceeded the hype.
But take a look now at the two teams. Many thought the Bucs would still be building in 2013. The Nats made an amazing run in 2012 and most believed that they would be flashing Natitude all over Major League Baseball with their young pitching staff led by Strasburg and an offense that features Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche.
The big three back then were Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. During Strasmas, Pudge Rodriguez steadied the nerves of a 21 year old so much so that he had arguably the best MLB debut for a pitcher ever with 14 strikeouts and no walks.
The major league leader in saves on that night was Matt Capps. Yeh, the big bull rider recorded his Major League leading 19th save during Strasmas.
The Bucs are still putting together a big three. But we like their chances with Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte leading the charge.
The Pirates castoff closer is now on the shelf and the duties have been turned over to Mark Melancon, another castoff that has pitched as well as any reliever in baseball.
Strasburg and the Nats had their fun on that night so long ago, even poking fun at the Bucs when he read his Top Ten List on David Letterman. (The complete list is below)
But those days are gone. Now it’s the Pirates that are having a good time at the expense of a fading Nationals team that many had pegged for the World Series before the season began.
The Pirates lineup on that night had Andrew McCutchen leading off, Neil Walker batting second and also getting a hit of Strasburg.
Lastings Milledge batted third.
[Long pause for dramatic effect.]
Garrett Jones hit cleanup, Delwyn (did I spell that correctly?) Young was in the five hole and hit a bomb of the Nats ace.
The lesser well known of the LaRoche brothers, Andy was at third base. Stay Thirsty my friends–Ronny Cedeno at short, and Jason Jaramillo was the catcher.
Tonight we fully expect a different background when we have our picture taken with the ‘new’ lucha mask. A celebration for Strasburg won’t be happening. There won’t be three shaving crème pies, no Elvis wig being donned, just more proof that the Pirates are the new upstart team in the National League.
Stephen Strasburg’s Top Ten List after his ML debut:
10) “To keep my focus on pitching, I sleep on a mound of dirt.”
9) “Every morning I spread Icy Hot on my toast.”
8) “Got 3 of my 14 strikeouts while Twittering.”
7) “To celebrate my first big league win, I bought a hot tub time machine.”
6) “I wasn’t really good till I got bitten by that radioactive spider.”
5) “Dumb guys think I directed ‘E.T.'”
4) “I also scored the winning goal for the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.”
3) “I blew my signing bonus on laser back hair removal.”
2) “Don’t even try to talk to me before a start or while I’m watching ‘Glee.'”
1) “If I would have known I’d be on Letterman, I wouldn’t have pitched so well.”