Here we go. Stephen Strasburg pitches today, and how he does will dictate forever the fortunes of the free world. Or America, or the Nationals. Or probably none of the above, judging by what 2 innings usually can tell you about a person. There’s quite a bit we’ve heard about this young man, and for many people, today will be the first time they really get to see him go. Because even if you miss the innings during the day, even though it’s being broadcast over the internets and well as TV, you’ll probably be able to see him on every Sportscenter all night, if you watch the sports on the nightly news, on an evening replay on MASN, and no doubt there will be video footage up within a few hours of the game.
But the question you may have is, “What should I be looking for? I don’t want to just watch him pitch, I want to see him and tell everyone there is something special because I saw him do this or watched him do that.” To you I would say, relax, and enjoy baseball. It isn’t all numbers and potential and prospects, sometimes it’s watching someone throw a pitch to a glove that is most fun. But if you must, I’ll tell you that I will be paying attention to the location. He is supposed to have pinpoint control, so I’d like to see if there are any nerves. I want to see if his throwing his fastball with the accuracy that we would all like to see. Let’s see if the catcher is chasing or is statue-still.
As for the velocity, I wouldn’t get too hung up on that. I’m sure he throws hard, the stories I’ve heard… yeesh. Everything from sitting in the high 90s (not maxing out there, sitting there) to… get this: I heard a guy on ESPN 980 radio yesterday who said he works for the Frederick Keys. He said that the Keys trainer was on Strasburg’s AFL team, and suggested that if he was a closer, only throwing an inning a game, and really throwing as hard as he could, he thinks he’d be throwing at 102. That’s in mph, by the way. It is true? Well, my story is, but the guy on the radio could just be some crazy blogger totally making stuff up. And who knows if the trainer was just exaggerating. But still, these Paul Bunyan-esque stories are the norm with Strasburg. All that being said, it’s day 1 game 1. I don’t expect the 99s or 100s. Not today.
So if he goes out there, hits the glove, throws with speed, maybe buckles a few knees with a curveball, then I’ll be happy. But mostly, I’m going to enjoy watching this great prospect, and since nothing will really be settled today, I’ll allow myself to continue imagining the future, because, no matter what anyone else tells you, it’s not quite here yet. This is just a sneak preview.