Not since Cats debuted on Broadway has an event gotten this much pub. And Stephen Strasburg is much much better than Cats.
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."
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
Strasburg is #nnnniiiiiiiiccccccceeeeeee
Hey, John Wall and Donovan McNabb: Good luck topping this.
Strasburg is like a drug. I have a ton of energy, I'm tingly all over, and I love everyone.
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.