Nyjer nailed it. Dead-on nailed it. I have to believe every one of the 10 trillion who walked out of Nationals Park last night, including those with "Pirates" on their jersies, was saying the same thing.
Jesus. Jee-SUS. JEE-SUS.
Unreal. Amazing. I don't even know the right words. Could a debut have worked out any more perfectly? Short of a no-no or a perfecto, which wasn't going to happen, I simply can't see how.
I actually planned to NOT blog about the game today. I had some other things to say (see below) and I figured why go where everyone else was going? There were a jillion media members there and bloggers everywhere were prepared to chronicle this. I knew we'd wake up with no shortage of Strasburg material to devour.
But you can't ignore something like that. Spare me the "let's see what he does against a real team" lines. The Pirates are a major-league team. They aren't a very good one but they are a major-league team. And Jee-SUS did what you should do against a weaker team. He dominated. He shook 'em like a dog shakes its prey, snapping their necks and draining the life right out of them.
My Son the Braves Fan came with me. We're slowly turning him. He had on a Nats shirt and a Nats hat I got him. He was into it. And we got into quite a debate after the Home Run Derby in the sixth, which probably didn't sit well with our neighbors in the stands since he was sitting in another section.
Take him out, my son said. He's been great, he can't lose. Get him out now.
I see the argument, sure. But not with this kid. If he has the stones we're told he has, now is the time to see. Did we ever. That seventh inning should be framed. A stunning display, running a strikeout streak to seven and throwing his last pitch at 99.
I'm actually glad he gave up that home run. It'll happen with a guy who throws that hard. See Virginia in last year's NCAA tournament. What I wanted to see was how he'd react. Lots of hype, lots of excitement, lots of nerves. He's done OK so far. And now he's losing. What will happen?
He started shaking that bird and broke its neck is what happened. He got about a million times better after that home run. Ten more outs, eight of them by strikeout, seven of them in succession to close his night and that seventh inning that will be etched in our memories forever.
I'm still drooling, by the way. I've seen a lot of stuff over the years. That seventh inning is instant Top Five and only because I haven't thought about the others on the list yet. It's probably No. 1.
In my group were two friends who are not Nats fans. One is a baseball fan in general, the other a Pirates fan. When we left the stadium, both were wearing Nats jersies. I suspect the Nats fan base has grown considerably overnight.
Most impressive besides that seventh inning? Movement. Change of speeds. Command. Savvy. Even his at-bat music is outstanding. This kid (yeah, right) is 21 - 21! He was thrown into a national spotlight and all he did was kick as much ass as can possibly be kicked.
The camera views they showed from behind him were head-shakingly good. One early pitch broke about two feet in on a batter. That ought to be illegal. You don't know where it is going, which way it is going to move or how fast it is coming. My son noted he wasn't aware that Strasburg had so much finesse as well as that amazing power.
The whole world knows now.
Jesus. Jee-SUS. JEE-SUS.
When does he pitch again? How much is air fare to Cleveland?
A few other thoughts:
*Are we really booing Lastings Milledge? C'mon. We're better than that. What did poor Lastings do to deserve such scorn? Be a little immature? Wow, such a rarity at his age (not everyone is a Strasburg). Not be quite as good a baseball player as we were told he'd be? For all his faults, HE didn't hype himself. Not be a center fielder or a leadoff hitter? Yep, boo him because the Nats tried to put his square-peg self into a round hole. Lay off. It didn't work. He's moved on, the Nats have moved on.
*Umpire Tom Hallion has the best called strike three motion I've ever seen. My back would last about two batters doing that.
*My friend Michael and I did a lap of the stadium upon entry to pick up the free (and surprisingly good quality) hats we earned with our mini plans. We were in the stadium at 5:45 when it is usually just the two of us and some vendors. Not last night. People were everywhere. I told him I wanted to get to where this was a daily thing, not just a roll-out-the-stud-night thing. They must win, a lot, to get that. You can only debut Strasburg once. How soon can it happen? Can the Nats ever get to where 35,000 is the rule rather than an exception? We'll see.
Most important, can the stadium handle it? I didn't notice many problems last night until the end. We got around easily, got food easily, the bathrooms were never a problem. For some reason, exiting that stadium when it is crowded is more of a pain than I recall other stadiums being and I'm not sure why. It should NOT take as long as it does. My daughter, a bit behind us because she was a level higher, sent me a text as we cattle-called our way out: Who is responsible for this c*********k? (yes, she included the asterisks). Not sure and I sure don't want to let it put a damper on a great evening but it is something that has to be addresed. I've been in stadiums with more people plenty of times and have never had such exit issues.
Michael, by the way, gets a big rib on me next time we go. I'm a gracious loser. I bet the game would be a sellout. He disagreed. Weak sauce. I needed someone to pad those numbers for me by about 1,000 and failed.
That's OK. If I get to see that kind of performance, I'll buy Michael an entire cow.