Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We Were All Witnesses

While I may not have been present at Nationals Park on June 8th, 2010 I had a pretty memorable seat for the debut of the Wunderkid Stephen Strasburg. I was not even in Washington, DC when Mr. Strasburg made his much anticipated Major League debut. I was, however, at a Buffalo Wild Wing in Robinson Township right outside of Pittsburgh, PA.

While I was on the wrong end of the history that was made that night, from the team I supported to being in the wrong city for the debut, I had a unique view for the emergence of the “Next Big Thing” in Major League Baseball.

Going in to the game, the general vibe around the media in Pittsburgh was, “Let’s light him up. Not because we have a reason to hate him, but for the hype that has surrounded him since his draft a year ago.” It was a matter of pride and knowing that they were part of history. They were tired of being a laughing stock and wanted to give the Pirates a little bit or pride for one night (more on that next week).

As the game went on, Strasburg ooh’d and ahh’d with the occasional 100 mph fast ball. When Delwyn Young launched a two run home run off of his bat in the 4th, the Immortal Mr. Strasburg looked like the hype machine would let him down and the entire bar erupted.

It didn’t last long.

After he’d gotten two outs in the 5th, Strasburg proceeded to strike out opposing pitcher Jeff Karstens.

And Andrew McCutchen.

And Neil Walker.

And Lastings Millidge.

He also K’d Garret Jones. He got revenge on Delwyn Young with another K. And finished off his evening with a strike out of Andy LaRoche.

The mortal was once again Immortal.

Seven straight strike outs. Strasburg has found his zone, and the Pirates fans at Buffalo Wild Wings had converted from preservation of pride to soaking in a moment of history, the unreal stats of 14 strike outs and zero base on balls was impressive enough, but coupled with his first outing at 20 years old… to quote Nike and Lebron James, as Pirates fans we were all witnesses.

While Strasburg may not have been so lights out in his second start (5 1/3 IP 2 H 1 ER 5 BB 8 Ks), no first start that I’ve witnessed, that everyone in the Buffalo Wild Wings had witnessed, has been so dominant, over powering, and worthy of every bit of praise that has been heaped upon them.

It’s rare that hype is truly met upon arrival. For all the calls of there being “The Next Big Thing”, Pittsburgh sports fans know the joy of those expectations being met (Sidney Crosby) and the pain of being let down (Kris Benson). They realize when expectations are met and when to truly appreciate the arrival of “The Next Big Thing”.

As Pittsburgh sports radio continuously stated afterward, they’d seen an arrival. What every fan in the Buffalo Wild Wing at Robinson saw, and knew, by the end of that game was that they witnessed the arrival of “The Next Big Thing”. And they saluted. There was nothing else you could do. You just knew, without a doubt, you’d seen the future and it was the real deal. We didn’t have to be told what we already knew…

We were all witnesses.

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