After Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype on Tuesday night, you had to expect the baseball literati—prone to wax poetic over a rain delay—to bring out the soaring melodrama to fete the arrival of baseball's Next Great Superstar. And as first pointed out by Kyle Whelliston on Twitter, they did NOT disappoint. A sample:
WASHINGTON — As Stephen Strasburg warmed up in the bullpen, making final preparations for a game he has awaited all his young life, Stevie Wonder was playing through the speakers at Nationals Park.
"Oh, baby, here I am,'' crooned Wonder. "Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours.''
That from the Chicago Tribune. More after the jump.
Because what do you really want out of a newspaper lede? You want to grab the readers' attention. Glamorize things. Set the tone for what's to come. Show readers why this one is different. If you're going to dial up the hyperbole machine, might as well do it up front, ya know? All part of being a newspaperman. I'm pretty sure this is what Season 5 of The Wire was about. Anyway, onto more Red Smith impersonations...
From USA Today:
WASHINGTON — Yeah. He's that good.
The countdown clock had been running for days on ESPN, to the DEBUT OF STEPHEN STRASBURG. By Tuesday evening, he had become a human space shuttle launch.
From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Four flags fly above the scoreboard at Nationals Park. The first three signify the pennants won by the city’s first major league team, the Senators. The last one is blank. It may not stay that way for long.
WASHINGTON — If you watch enough sports in your life, you think you have a feel for what's possible and what isn't.
And then you see Stephen Strasburg.
WASHINGTON — "Strasmas" exceeded its remarkable hype last night, and this long-sleepy baseball town leaped out of bed to marvel at its gift.
From a Chinese media outlet:
BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhuanet) — Stephen Strasburg has set foot on a brilliant highway when he struck out 14 batters and 100-mph fastballs in his Major League Baseball debut in Washington.
From Time Magazine:
So it looks like there’s now another reason to visit the nation’s capital besides monuments and museums. Skip the Smithsonian, go see Stephen Strasburg.
From the Boston Herald:
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of fans milled through the wide concourses at Nationals Field wearing red T-shirts with Stephen Strasburg’s name and No. 37 embossed on the back. Neal Schlosburg couldn’t wait. He bought his last week.
From the New York Daily News:
WASHINGTON — They had an inauguration here Tuesday night. It began at 7:06 on a little hill on S. Capitol St., the centerpiece of it not an African-American president from Chicago but a kid pitcher from San Diego, a kid who wears No. 37 and fires tiny fastballs and spins parabolic curves and achieved the unthinkable before he even struck out his first batter.
From Fox News:
This was a night of anticipation Washington sports fans haven’t experienced since they were kids on Christmas Eve. And just like a seven-year-old waking up the next day to discover a load of presents under the tree, Washington Nationals fans were treated to pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s opening performance...
From NBC Sports:
It’s probably too early to put Stephen Strasburg in the Hall of Fame. We should wait at least another two starts.
And now, just for fun, my turn...
WASHINGTON — Whether they called it "Strasgasm" or "Strasmas," on Tuesday night, Washington Nationals fans must have felt like they were in a whole different city, watching a whole different team. The energy was that palpable, with flash bulbs popping left and right. Was this really happening in Washington D.C.?
It was. But when the dust settled after the seventh inning, we'd entered a whole different Stephen Strasburg stratosphere. America's pastime, and the nine from the nation's capital, has a bright future.
...See, we can all be ridiculous after last night. It was an outing readymade for hyperbole. But the craziest part? Nothing tells the story better than what actually happened. From Reuters' release:
In one of the most talked about Major League Baseball debuts in years, the 21-year-old right-hander retired nine of the first 10 Pittsburgh batters he faced in front of a standing room-only crowd at Nationals Park.
Strasburg, who mixes a high-velocity fastball with good off-speed pitches, allowed just four hits and did not walk a Pittsburgh batter.
Pretty simple. Facing greater expectations than just about any baseball player in recent memory, Strasburg lived up to his billing and then some. That's what made last night's Strasburg debut so special. It was one of those rare occasions when the story on the field upstaged any grand narrative anyone could ever conceive. Not that they didn't try...