Chief Washington D.C. Correspondent Helen Thomas Brad Matheson was lucky enough to see the next Savior of Baseball, Stephen Strasburg pitch last night. Here are some of his observations:
Whether you paid $500 on StubHub or $5 as a game-day walk-up (like I did); whether you were practically on the field or your vantage point was on par with the tourists on top of the Washington Monument (like mine was), Stephen Strasburg gave you your money’s worth in DC on Tuesday. Few games I have attended defied the conventions of baseball fandom — sitting while your team is at bat and getting your beer/hot dog while they are in the field — like Tuesday’s K-Fest.
Once you look past the loud boos that greeted thethe two balls Strasburg threw to start the game, Nats fans were better than I have ever seen them. They were on their feet before every strike three, turning to the pitch speed monitor expectantly until it finally flashed triple digits. Strasburg won the game with run support by Washington’s fan favorites Zimmerman, Dunn, and Willingham (nicknamed “The Hammer,” who knew?).
Even when Strasburg wavered in the 4th, the Nats organization was ready to step up with entertaining stadium hijinks. The Presidential Mascot Race featured appearances from a Pittsburgh Pierogi AND some Sausages — an assembly of characters that would normally top the Nationals’ monthly if not annual highlight reel. And Adam Dunn got in on it merely by coming to the plate to his ridiculous at-bat music: Phil Collins –“In the Air Tonight.” Enough said.
Here’s a disclaimer for anyone who thinks they wants to see Strasburg pitch: if you cherish your excitement for watching a pitcher who throw a 92-93 mph fastball with a respectable 15+ mph drop-off to their off-speed, stay as far away from Strasburg as possible. The 99-81 differential made the opposing pitcher look just as silly as the batters who were bailing out on Strasburg’s curve.
For a team who’s top three single-game attendance records are probably held by back-to-back-to-back games hosting the Red Sox, Tuesday’s Strasburg-mania should go down as the greatest night in the Washington Nationals’ short history. I guess I’ll save my ticket.