Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg Delivers David Letterman's Top 10.

The Nationals' 2009 No. 1 pick exceeded expectations in his Major League debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Alex Reed was live-blogging the 5-2 win every step of the way.

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Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg Delivers David Letterman's Top 10.

David Letterman, who claims to have, “…spent seven years of my life in the Dominican Republic as a scout,” says he hasn’t seen anything like Stephen Strasburg’s MLB Debut, so he invited the Nats’ starter on the Late Show with David Letterman to read Thursday night’s “Top Ten”:

• Little Known Facts About Stephen Strasburg:

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 til 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’ve known I’d be on Letterman, I wouldn’t have pitched so well.

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Strasburg Receives Prestigous Trotter Tribute

Thanks to his amazing debut against the Pirates on Tuesday, the Harlem Globetrotters have honored Stephen Strasburg with the "Trotter Tribute" for a "Globetrotter-esque" dominating performance.

Via The Harlem Globetrotters:

"That kid dominated the Pirates like they were the Washington Generals," said Globetrotters star Flight Time Lang.

The "Trotter Tribute" honors professional and college athletes from all sports throughout the world whose play calls to mind the dazzling showmanship of "the world's most famous team."

The honor is designed to recognize amazing and entertaining moments during the course of competition.

The accolades continue to stream in, from all directions apparently.

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Hall Of Fame Pitcher Bob Feller Will Watch The Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg On Sunday

In an appearance this afternoon on the MLB Network Radio show “Power Alley” with Kevin Kennedy and Jim Duquette, Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller joked about the strict pitch counts Stephen Strasburg and other young pitchers are held to these days, telling the show’s hosts:

Bob Feller: “If they had the pitch counts when I was a kid and came up, I’d never have gotten out of the third …”

The veteran of 18 MLB seasons with the Cleveland Indians, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962 -- 26 years after he’d made his own MLB debut -- tells MLB.com writer Anthony Castrovince in an article entitled, “Feller eyeing Strasburg’s blossoming career,” that “…he was just 17 years old when he struck out 15 St. Louis Browns batters in nine innings in his first Major League start on Aug. 23, 1936.” The 91-year-old Feller tells the MLB.com writer he’ll be there at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Sunday when Strasburg pitches against Indians…

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'Strasmas' Ball, Cap Donated To Baseball Hall Of Fame

Hall of Fame officials had not planned on asking for anything from Stephen Strasburg's debut, according to Adam Kilgore of Nationals Journal. However, the rookie phenom's historic performance gave them little choice, and the Nationals obliged by their request:

As Stephen Strasburg taped an apperance on "Late Show with David Letterman," the Nationals and Strasburg announced today they will donate his game-worn cap and a game ball to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Read this for more information on baseballs and Strasburg's appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

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Riggleman: Stephen Strasburg Will Start Every Five Days, Not Every Five Games

Jim Riggleman was just on "The Sports Fix" on ESPN Radio 980 with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro, and he confirmed to them that Stephen Strasburg will start every five days, not every five games. This is a slight distinction that will slightly alter the games in which Strasburg is projected to start. 

Via Mark Zuckerman:

Riggleman confirms to Loverro/Sheehan on ESPN 980 that Strasburg will pitch every 5 days til the All-Star break, not every 5 games...

...which means he'll start Sunday in CLE, then Fri 6/18 vs CHW and Wed 6/23 vs KC.   

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Baseball Hall Of Fame Wants A Piece Of Stephen Strasburg's Debut After All

For some odd reason, the MLB Hall of Fame wasn't originally going to ask for any memorabilia from Stephen Strasburg's debut. The stated reason, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, was that they didn't want to collect items simply because of "media anticipation." (As opposed to ... what, exactly? Player anticipation?).

But then Strasburg kicked butt, living up to the hype and then some. Because of that, according to Olney, the Hall of Fame has changed their tune.

On Tuesday afternoon, I called Jeff Idelson of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and asked him if the Hall had any plans to ask for a piece of memorabilia from Strasburg's debut. He said no, because from the perspective of a museum, they weren't going collect items merely because of media anticipation.

Well, after the game, the Hall of Fame called the Nationals and made a request for a memento.

If the Nats really wanted to be mean, they would say "Sorry, missed your chance guys. Maybe we'll give you something when Bryce Harper debuts." I really wish they would do this, just for kicks and giggles. 

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Stephen Strasburg Sets The Blogging World On Fire

Not since Cats debuted on Broadway has an event gotten this much pub. And Stephen Strasburg is much much better than Cats.

Via Federal Baseball:

The young Nationals pitcher was lethal when ahead in the count. Strasburg had a plethora of "out-pitches" to work with, including his patented breaking ball ("slurve") and his 90 mph 'change-up' (it's nice when you can downshift to 90 mph, isn't it??).  Furthermore,  many fans pondered how effective he could have been if given a generous strike zone, and felt the young phenom was being 'squeezed' on many occasions. Long-time season-ticket-holder Ryan Locks shared his thoughts:

 "Unbelievable," Locks said, "Imagine what he could have done if [he was] given a proper zone. Move over Ovechkin, we have a new superstar in DC."

Via Beyond the Box Score:

Finally, let's exit the realm of generalizability for a moment, and look at one particular pitch. It was Stephen Strasburg's 21st pitch of his career. In the grand scheme of things, it didn't mean much. It was a ball that missed rather badly inside and did not draw a swing. But it was a fastball, and it broke over 8" upward and nearly 8.5" towards the plate...

And it left his hand at 100.1 MPH.

Via SBNation:

Strasburg featured three pitches in his debut, and each is already among the best of its type in the league. A pitcher with one of his fastball, his curve, or his change would be worthy of a first-round pick. A pitcher with all three of them is worthy of consideration as the best pitcher in baseball, and as insane as that sounds, who's going to disagree? Who, that watched those seven innings, believes Strasburg still has more to prove?

Via Bucs Dugout:

But other than that, the Pirates didn't look much different than UNLV did when I saw them trying to hit Strasburg last year at San Diego State. And yeah, I know--the Pirates are awful, ha ha. But they looked positively flummoxed, and in ways that I'm not sure are going to change much once Strasburg makes his way around the league a couple of times. His pitches are so nasty, and so different from each other, that the only person who can cause problems for Strasburg is himself.

Via Tom Boswell of WaPo:

After the destruction the Nationals rookie wreaked on the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup, every one of his games now falls into that can't-miss category. The excitement that started two hours before the game, then extended through warm-ups with fans craning over the Nats bullpen to smell the Strasburg smoke, to the standing-room-only crowd's curtain call for the town's new star, will be recreated with vast variation many a time.

Via Buster Olney:

But you also knew, early on, just how great Strasburg's stuff is by the body language of those around home plate. Time after time, the knees of Pirates' hitters buckled when Strasburg threw curveballs, and time after time, Pirates hitters were caught flailing at the air with their bats, looking like cowboys trying to lasso a mosquito with a rope; they had no chance.

And Tom Hallion, the plate umpire, appeared to be overwhelmed at the outset, as well.

And Strasmas was also a Twitter bonanza:

Via Greg Oden:

Strasburg is #nnnniiiiiiiiccccccceeeeeee

Via dcsportsbog:

Hey, John Wall and Donovan McNabb: Good luck topping this.

Via kevin_reiss:

Strasburg is like a drug. I have a ton of energy, I'm tingly all over, and I love everyone.

Via Michael Lee:

N & Y RT @jmanasso Will poor @MrMichaelLee have any space to write about NBA Finals in WaPo or will Strasburgian Extravaganza consume all?

Via Unsilent:

Surreal

I think the last tweet sums up my thoughts the best.  Yesterday took the shame of the Wizard's season, Caps' collapse, and Redskin nonsense and erased it in just under two hours.

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VIDEO: All 14 Of Stephen Strasburg's Strikeouts

Update: this video has been removed from YouTube by MLB

(HT: Mister Irrelevant)

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Stephen Strasburg's Debut Recap: Nationals 5, Pirates 2

Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Stephen Strasburg certainly lived up to the hype in one of the most anticipated debuts in recent memory, striking out an eye-popping 14 of the 24 Pirates he faced in Washington's 5-2 victory.

Despite being limited by a pitch count, Strasburg (1-0) lasted seven brilliant innings, allowing a mere four hits without walking a batter. He threw 65 of his 94 pitches for strikes and his strikeout total was the third most in a debut in major league history and most for the Nationals since the franchise moved from Montreal.

The 21-year-old right-hander commanded an array of back-breaking pitches, including a fastball that was consistently in the 97-99 m.p.h range and a deadly curve that served as his strikeout pitch for most of the game.

He struck out the final seven batters he faced and his only true mistake was serving up a two-run homer to Delwyn Young in the fourth inning.

That blast gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead, but the 6-foot-4, 220-pound flame- thrower quickly recovered and retired the next 10 hitters before a pair of homers in the sixth put him in line for the win.

Adam Dunn hit a go-ahead two-run blast in the frame, and Josh Willingham followed with one of his own for Washington, which had lost five of six coming into the game.

Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored, and Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps each hurled a scoreless inning of relief to seal the memorable win before a sellout crowd of 40,315.

Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens (1-2) held the Nats in check for the first five frames before wilting in the sixth and finishing with a line of four runs allowed on nine hits.

The Pirates have lost four of five overall.

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Stephen Strasburg's Debut: Putting His Performance In Perspective

Stephen Strasburg's performance tonight (7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 ER, 14 K) was nothing short of spectacular. Taking a step back allows us to further realize just how special he was in his debut. Via Ed Price:

Last pitcher to strike out 10+ in 6 or fewer innings in his debut was Mark Prior.

Also via Ed Price:

Most K in debut with no walks, since 1920, before now: Johnny Cueto, 10, 4-3-2008.

And finally, via Ed Price:

Most K in debut, since 1920: J.R. Richard 15, Karl Spooner 15, Stephen Strasburg 14.

Regardless of whether the Nationals win or lose (they currently lead 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning), more than 40,000 baseball fans will leave Nationals Park tonight smiling. Pirates fans, you say? I'm not quite sure if they invade D.C. sports venues like Penguins' and Steelers' backers, but surely even they can appreciate history in the making.

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Stephen Strasburg's Debut, Seventh Inning: Is This Real Life, Or A Video Game?

  • Back-to-back homeruns by Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham in the bottom of the sixth have put the Nationals ahead, 4-2.
  • Strasburg heads back to the mound in the top of the seventh, but this looks like it will be his last inning. He is due up next for the Nationals in the bottom half of the inning and has already recorded 81 pitches.
  • Rob Dibble says "you already know the kid is running out of gas. It's not easy to maintain that velocity even for a 21 year old kid". The radar gun (high 90's still) begs to differ.
  • Another strikeout: 81 MPH breaking ball against Garrett Jones for his 12th - yes, you read that correctly - strikeout of the game. The kid is simply unbelievable, and there's not much more you can say about him.
  • It would be nice if Riggleman would take Strasburg out in the middle of the inning. That way, he could receive the proper standing ovation.
  • He leaves him in, and for good reason: Strasburg gets both Delwyn Young and Andy LaRoche to strikeout swinging. That's an unbelievable 14 strikeouts in seven innings.
  • Since the Delwyn Young homerun in the fourth inning, Strasburg has retired 10 consecutive batters. He has also struck out eight of the last nine batters he's faced, including seven consecutively.
  • If you're watching this game and, like me, think you're either dreaming or watching yourself play MLB '94 on Sega Saturn, you need to know that this is real. This is very, very real.
  • Strasburg is officially out of the game after being pinch hit for in the bottom of the seventh by Willie Harris and receiving a curtain call from the crowd at Nationals Park.
  • His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 ER, 14 K, 94 pitches, and for one night and possibly more, the King of Washington, DC.
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Stephen Strasburg's Debut, Sixth Inning: Wow! Strasburg Strikes Out The Side, Has 11 On The Game

  • Patrick has updated us from the press box at Nationals Park:
  • Just to set the scene a little. The press box is overflowing with reporters, they shut the cafeteria down rather than try to serve this many people, and handed out box lunches. Writers are lining the walls, there's a makeshift press box in the dining room where everyone usually eats, they've filled up the overflow box "The Shirley Povich Media Center" and each and every person up here in the box and in the stands is hanging on every pitch. Strasburg's thrown 70 through 5.0, 45 for strikes, given up 4 hits, 1 HR, 2 ER, and recorded 8 K's, with 5 groundouts and 1 flyout from the 18 batters he's faced.The Nationals strand Cristian Guzman on second base in the bottom half of the fifth inning as they still trail, 2-1.
  • While the crowd is still very much alive and kicking, it's interesting to note that they've quieted down a little bit since Delwyn Young's two-run shot. At least when Strasburg isn't striking everyone out.
  • Another strikeout for Strasburg, this time the victim being Andrew McCutchen on a 91 MPH changeup. So far, by my unofficial count, Strasburg has at least one strikeout with his fastball, slurve, and changeup.
  • Neil Walker comes to plate and strikes out swinging on a 99 MPH fastball. That gives Strasburg 10 strikeouts on the game. Just another day at the office, huh?
  • In case you're unimpressed and 10 strikeouts wasn't dazzling enough, Strasburg gets Lastings Milledge to strikeout swining on a 92 MPH changeup, sending the crowd (and the Twitter-sphere) into a frenzy. He has retired seven consecutive Pirates batters.
  • That's an incredible 11 strikeouts for the rookie in his debut. His line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 ER, 11 K. He has thrown 81 pitches (54 for strikes), so whether he pitches in the seventh inning is anyone's guess.
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Stephen Strasburg's Debut, Fifth Inning: He's Still Throwing 99 MPH Gas

  • Nationals threaten, but do not score, in the bottom of the fourth. The Pirates lead, 2-1.
  • Ronny Cedeno leads off for the Pirates, and Strasburg blows him away with a 99 MPH fastball for his seventh strikeout of the game. He looks angry, AND YOU DON'T WANT TO FACE HIM WHEN HE'S ANGRY!
  • Strasburg gets Jason Jaramillo to ground out to first. As exciting as the strikeouts are, that's exactly what he needs to keep his pitch count down and remain effective late in the game.
  • Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens is up again, however, so inducing a grounder might be difficult. Expect a strikeout here.
  • And, as predicted, Karstens strikes out looking on a beautiful looking 99 MPH fastball on the outside corner.
  • Strasburg's line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8 K. He has only thrown 70 pitches (45 for strikes), so expect at least one more inning out of him.
  • Pirates still lead, 2-1.
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Stephen Strasburg's Debut, Fourth Inning: Strasburg Is...Human?

  • In the bottom of the third, Strasburg walked to the plate for his first major league at bat. The song was "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes.
  • He hit a slow grounder between short and third, and for a moment there it looked like he was going to beat out the throw for an infield single, his first major league hit. Alas, he's a pitcher, not a baserunner, which lead Joseph White, Jr., to comment, "After watching Strasburg job slowly to 1st on the groundout, I'm convinced he's the one who's been in the Teddy costume all this time." Touche, sir.
  • The score remains 1-0 heading to the top of the fourth.
  • Neil Walker leads off the inning with a single to right field. Strasburg will have to pitch from the stretch with no outs.
  • Strasburg yields another hit, this time to Lastings Milledge. This is officially the first jam of his major league career: runners on first and second with no outs. Let's see how the kid responds. Bold prediction: strikeout, double play ball, in that order.
  • Tailor-made 6-4-3 double play on a broken bat grounder by Garrett Jones.
  • Stuff happens: Delwyn Young gets on a changeup and nails a two-run homerun to right field. Pirates lead, 2-1, and Stephen Strasburg is indeed human.
  • Andy LaRoche pops out to Cristian Guzman and the inning comes to a close, but not without damage.
  • Strasburg's line thus far: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 K. He has thrown 56 pitches.
  • If you're like me and harboring some anger toward Delwyn Young for putting a minor blemish on Stasburg's debut, you'll enjoy the GIF below from the second inning, courtesy of a filthy 83 MPH breaking ball and SB Nation's Jeff Sullivan's computer skills (click to view animation):

Youngcurve_medium


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Stephen Strasburg's Debut, Third Inning: Three Up, Three Down

  • Nationals strand Ivan Rodriguez on third base in the bottom of the second. The score remains Nationals 1, Pirates 0.
  • As Strasburg heads to the mound again, I wonder: is there any way he is actually this good?
  • First strikeout looking, an 83 MPH called strike against Jason Jaramillo. Fifth strikeout of the game, with the Pirates' pitcher heading to the plate.
  • Strasburg gets ahead of Karstens 0-2. It's only a matter of time, now, before his sixth strikeout of the game.
  • Swing and a miss. Strasburg downs Karstens with a 98 MPH fastball for his sixth strikeout of the game. He has only faced nine batters.
  • McCutchen grounds out to third to end the inning. He's made contact with the ball during both at bats, and as such, deserves a raise.
  • Now's a good time to mention how impressed I am with Stephen Strasburg, but you already know that. Not only is he throwing gas (high 90's fastball, low 90's changeup), but his "slurve" is even more unhittable than I could have possibly imagined and his control of the zone has been outstanding.
  • Nationals lead, 1-0.
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Stephen Strasburg's Debut, Second Inning: Three More Strikeouts

  • Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo shot in the bottom of the first to stake the Nats to a 1-0 advantage. With Strasburg on the mound, I guess the Nats hitters can just take the rest of the day off.
  • Rob Dibble does not approve of the umpire speaking with a pitcher in between innings, and in a rare moment, I agree with the Nats' color commentator. Why is the ump screwing with his rhythm?
  • Strasburg smokes two consecutive 98 MPH fastballs by Garrett Jones. Second strikeout of the game.
  • Wow. 81 MPH breaking ball with insane movement to strikeout Delwyn Young, his third consecutive strikeout.
  • Strasburg gives up an opposite field single to Andy LaRoche on a fastball. He's human, I guess, but so was Gandhi.
  • 0-2 count to Ronny Cedeno with LaRoche on first. Let's see how Strasburg pitches from the stretch here.
  • An 89 MPH changeup, and he gets Cedeno to strikeout.
  • That was his fourth strikeout of the game. In two innings. I'm not sure he can keep this pace up, but then again, I'm not sure he can't, either.
  • The crowd goes nuts every time Strasburg throws a strike, and is even louder for strikeouts. It looks like several thousand of them are standing for his pitches, too.
  • Nats are still ahead, 1-0.
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Stephen Strasburg's Debut, First Inning: The Kid Looks Unflappable

Ken Burns has thrown out the ceremonial first pitch, and we're underway.

  • Simply seeing that many fans in the stands at a Nationals game has given me goosebumps. Wonder how Strasburg feels?
  • First pitch: fastball inside for a ball. Fans are not happy. Booing, even. What a bust!
  • McCutchen absolutely crushed a line drive to short. Good thing Ian Desmond got in the way.
  • The movement on Strasburg's "slurve' is frightening.
  • 96 MPH sinker to Neil Walker. Are you kidding me?!
  • Groundball out for Walker. Expect to see a lot of those for the Pirates today.
  • 99 MPH on the fastball, 79 MPH on the breaking ball, both to Lastings Milledge.
  • First major league strikeout. 83 MPH curveball. Absolutely unhittable. Poor Milledge, the kid never stood a chance.
  • Three up, three down. Simple formula.
  • Strasburg got through the toughest inning: the first of his career. The kid looks unflappable.
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A Pre-Game Update From Nationals Park

Our very own Patrick Reddington, also the lead blogger for Federal Baseball, is on the scene at Nationals Park to cover Stephen Strasburg's debut.

Amid taking the spectacle all in, he graciously found time to email me regarding the pre-game stadium atmosphere:

There has been a buzz in Nationals Park for hours now. Originally generated by the 230-250 or so members of the media who requested credentials, but it's slowly grown now that the fans are filing in. 40 minutes before Stephen Strasburg throws his first pitch he just walked out to the bullpen to stretch and begin his pregame routine, and a wave of applause grew and followed him as the distracted fans realized that the player in the red sweatshirt walking out to the outfield with Nats' pitching coach Steve McCatty was the player baseball writers, television analysts, personalities and local dignitaries have all come out to see. Stephen Strasburg is in the right field corner of Nationals Park preparing to throw his first pitch, in less than 30 minutes now the park will momentarily light up as several thousand camera flashes light up to capture the moment when Stephen Strasburg finally uncorks his first high-90's heater and officially begins his Major League career.

I think people might be excited to watch this kid pitch. I also think that's the understatement of the century.

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Can You Feel The Hype?

Strasmas is less than an hour away, and if you're in DC, either listening to radio, watching television, or simply sitting at a bus stop, you're surely hearing about the best thing to ever happen to the Nationals.

Leading off SportsCenter? Not Game 3 of the NBA Finals. It's Strasburg.

Host Dari Nowkhah began with the following:

It is finally time for some excitement for DC Sports.

While I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an insult, the mere suggestion that a Pirates-Nationals matchup in early June could generate enough hype to overtake a classic NBA Finals matchup between the Lakers and Celtics would have been laughed at by anyone and their mother several months ago.

Predictions? Yea, they've been thrown around.

On Around The Horn, Woody Paige jokingly suggested that Strasburg was going to throw a perfect game.

Tim Kurkjian, live from Nationals Park for Baseball Tonight, thought 90 pitches and no more than seven innings pitched was reasonable.

And me? I'll get specific: 5 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 5 K. I'm no Nostradamus, but I'll be absolutely shocked if Strasburg doesn't perform exactly in line with my expectations.

Leave your predictions for Strasburg's debut in the comments section. Closest guess gets a shoutout from yours truly on twitter (a huge deal, I know).

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Behold, Strasmas Is Upon Us!: Live-Blogging Stephen Strasburg's MLB Debut

Ladies and gentlemen, Strasmas is upon us.

Or Strasmageddon, Straspocalypse, and Strasmukkah.

Whatever your preferred name may be, one fact is clear to all: Stephen Strasburg will finally suit up for the Washington Nationals tonight, making his Major League debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

From the moment Strasburg was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2009 MLB Draft, baseball fans have impatiently wondered when perhaps the greatest pitching prospect ever would first appear for the Nationals, and how he would pan out. Tonight won't provide any conclusive answers to the ladder question, but it certainly has the city of Washington D.C. buzzing about baseball like never before. Well, almost never before.

Strasburg's opponent on the mound will be Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens, who is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 38.0 innings pitched on the season.

The Nationals have lost seven of their last ten games and 16 of their last 23, so they will look to Strasburg to get them back on the right track.

From a personal standpoint, after watching Strasburg get drafted No. 1, sweating out his contract negotiation to the very last minute of the deadline, and keeping a keen eye on him in the minors, I haven't been this excited for a professional debut since Alex Ovechkin's in 2005.

So come one, come all, and please join me tonight as I live-blog what is hopefully history in the making.

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