Ever since the Washington Nationals franchise came into existence in 2005 they haven't had much luck go their way to say the least. From 2005-present day, the Nationals have won 376 games, but have lost a dismal 507 games (record includes 2010 season). In the five year span the Nationals have wound up in last place in the National League East every year but once and often find themselves wondering what will it take to get the team on the right track.
On June 9, the Washington Nationals found a big piece to the puzzle. With the first pick of the 2009 MLB Draft the Nationals selected a young flame thrower out of the University of San Diego State. The young 21 year old goes by the name of Stephen Strasburg, or now known to many as "Strasmas". The pick was a no brainer for the Nationals. After all, they had just drafted a kid who often hit triple digits on the radar gun and has been deemed by many as the best pitching prospect of the decade.
Strasburg's three year career at San Diego State was mesmerising, as he handled the competition with ease. At the end of his college career he finished with a record of 25-7, 1.78 E.R.A, 243.1 IP, and 375 punch outs. However, many flamethrowers like Strasburg don't have great control. That wasn't at all the case with Strasburg, as his career strikeout-to-walk ratio in college was 375:50. That translates into saying he struck out seven batters for every walk he gave up. That is down right unbelievable, considering a 3:1 ratio in the big leagues is considered great. It's easy to say Strasburg impressed all who had the opportunity to watch him, especially the San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers.
"He was dominating, as dominating as anyone I've seen," said Towers. He really has no flaws. You can see guys throw in the high 90's, but they usually have no idea where it's going. He can throw in the high 90's comfortably and locate it."
Strasburg wouldn't take long to make his way up to the Bigs, as he coasted through the minor league competition. In his short stint between AA-AAA, Strasburg went 7-2 in his 11 starts, posted a minuscule 1.30 E.R.A. in 55.1 IP, and struck out 65 helpless batters. The Washington Nationals had seen all they wanted to see of him in the Minor Leagues; it was time for the flamethrower to be called up.
Almost one year exactly after being drafted he was making his Major League Debut and all of baseball fans throughout the nation were watching closely to witness the great "Strasmas" himself. On June 8, 2010 Strasburg took the mound at Nationals Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time. By the end of the night, Strasburg had set a new franchise record for strikeouts in a single game (14) and had won his very first big league appearance. He had gone above and beyond all the hype and expectations, as he threw seven brilliant innings of four hit baseball and only gave up two runs. The Nationals won the game 5-2.
The game line stats for Strasburg were great nonetheless, but the greatest significance noticed around Nationals Park on June 8, 2010 was that Strasburg had the city's interest back in the ball club. It was a night of many firsts, not only for Strasburg. For the first time in Nationals history, a capacity crowd of 40,315 with an up-roaring amount of buzz filled the ballpark.
On June 8, Americans fell in love with "Strasmas." They realized that whenever the phenom comes to town it's going to feel like a holiday.
Strasburg's debut was no fluke. In his first four starts with the Nationals he has gone 2-1 with a 1.78 E.R.A. and punched out 41 hitters in just 25.1 innings. However, the Nationals have spoiled two strong starts from Strasburg, as their offense was not a factor at all in the 2-1 loss to the White Sox on June 18th and in the 1-0 loss to the Royals on June 23rd. Even though the Nationals currently sit in last place once again with their 33-41, they have shown major signs of improvement and have given fans a reason to be excited about the near future.
Over Strasburg's first four major league starts the home team has averaged an attendance of 36,357 fans. That is truly amazing if you look at where his first four starts have come: three at Nationals Park (Season Avg. Attendance- 23,286) and one at Progressive Field (Home of the Indians; Season Avg. Attendance- 16,343). So "Strasmas" alone is drawing in nearly 20,000 more fans to watch him pitch. So with upcoming starts against the Braves at Turner Field and many other powerhouse teams, the attendances will likely be sky high for his scheduled starts and many stadiums will have standing room capacity only.
Scott Boras, Strasburg's agent, knows exactly why baseball fans flock to the phenom hurler.
"When you have somebody knocking the ball in the seats with greater regularity than someone else, when you have someone throwing 100 miles per hour, fans immediately are registered to it. They identify with it. They don't see it very often. They know it's extraordinary. It's very easy to know it's real and special from the start."
Right now Strasburg is the main attraction wherever he goes, he is the Elvis Presley of baseball. So sit back baseball fans and enjoy the show and happy "Strasmas" if he comes to a town or city near you.