ALTOONA, PA - APRIL 11: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Harrisburg Senators talks with members of the media during a press conference following their win against the Altoona Curve in his minor league debut on April 11, 2010 at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Stephen Strasburg's debut isn't just a big deal for the fans; it's also a big deal for media members.
Happy #Strasmas! Or should I congratulate you on some sort of #Strasgasm? Whatever you want to use to express your elation over Stephen Strasburg's Major League Baseball debut with the Washington Nationals this evening, please feel free to do so.
This offer doesn't just extend to fans of the hapless Nats franchise, casual to intense baseball observers or fantasy warriors. It extends to the media as well, from the MSMs, beat reporters and columnists of punditry alike to the bloggers hacking away as they see fit. The media benefits from the frenzied love of Strasburg, hence, they (we) love them (us) some Strasburg too.
"I think what media members from mainstream newspapers or mainstream TV stations or mainstream blogs (and you guys are obviously that now) are stories that people care about," e-mails Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post's DC Sports Bog. "People have cared about Strasburg from the beginning, and they'll care about him for years, even if he bombs. But a lot more people will care if he succeeds, and if he helps jolt the franchise into relevancy. To the extent that the objective part of our operation is rooting for anything, that would be it."
And if you don't love Stephen Strasburg or don't even care about baseball for that matter? Nonsense. There are ways to make you care, or at least ways to bring you along for the ride.
A fan of Japanese poetry? Why not enter the Strasburg Haiku contest? (Or, Strasku ... )
For those more into politics, there's still no escape. Strasburg is all over the cover of Politico.
Towns are changing their name to Strasburg. Well, a town already established as "Strasburg" is offering to put "Stephen" in front to be named Stephen Strasburg, Virginia -- should the pitching phenom make the 90-mile trek from D.C. to visit. The offer to name a little league team after Stephen is, however, no longer on the table.
Strasburg even has his own Google Search story:
Ok, I made that one up.
But while his debut is frenzied, the overall hypebeast of Stephen Strasburg still rides in the backseat.
If the Redskins regular-season opener against Dallas was pitted against Strasburg's debut, bet that a majority of the DVRs in the DMV would be set to MASN or the Network MLB.
"My own observation is that a big Redskins story still gets more local web traction than a big Strasburg story," says Steinberg. "The Redskins' fanbase is immense, and nationwide, and based in history and tradition, and encompassing a lot of different demographics. It would have been impossible for anything Nats-related to conjure those sort of emotions just five years in."
Still, in comparison to other D.C. sports, Strasburg has a leg up.
The debut of Alex Ovechkin, as great as he is now, pales in comparison to Strasburg's. The media was barely taking a whiff of the Russian before he proved himself. Plus, it's baseball vs. hockey. Right now, only an NHL playoff game seven for the Caps (in any round) would possibly usurp Strasburg's major league debut in the D.C. sports pecking order.
And John Wall going to the Wizards? Forget about it. Wall's just an 'any-given-year' darling. Strasburg is being sold as once-in-a-lifetime. The Washington Post Sports Twitter account (@PostSports) agrees:
"Not quite #Strasburg, but will be big. RT @WizardsInsider: John Wall to work out for Wizards on June 17 (via @MrMichaelLee)."
The majority of the DMV would likely only watch the Wizards in an NBA Finals game seven over Strasvaganza.
Whether Strasburg lives up to expectations or not, tonight is an event of epic historical proportions because the hype is so easy to buy into. Washington has a sensational baseball appetite, and the media is here to feed the city with perhaps the greatest sensation ever.
If anything, you'll be able to approach random people on Wednesday and simply say, "Strasburg," and get an interested opinion instead of a quizzical look. Because as Steinberg puts it best, "There's damn sure more tangible results for writing about Strasburg than writing about Craig Stammen."