Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Debut to Remember, A Career Worth Remembering

Stephen Strasburg was a San Diego legend. A kid with unbelievable heat, four pitches for strikes and great command/control. He played with poise and had a level head because of him being well-grounded in his faith.

Best of all, he had one of the greatest hitters alive as his college coach in Tony Gwynn to keep him cool and school him on how Major League hitters would pick him apart.

Yesterday, the #1 overall pick came to D.C. Tore up the minors like a whirlwind and came up with the greatest pitching hype since another San Diego native Mark Prior - still a curse word for Chicago. Who cares that it was against the Pirates, any rookie pitcher is supposed to do his job, escape with the win if lucky and just try to look good.

I never saw any of his minor league starts but if his debut was any indication, WOW! This kid is as special as they come. Behold the Phenom's line of work:

7 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, ZERO WALKS, 94 pitches and 14 K's!!!! Struck out the side 3 times, 9 of the last 10 batters

I saw a pitcher with poise step on the mound and take control. He didn't try to force his pitches thanks to the steady hand of Pudge Rodriguez in front of him. Barely got any 3-ball counts, threw a deadly curveball, threw crazy heat on his fastball (30 pitches in the 90+ mph range), and a solid breaking ball.

I don't care this was against the Pirates (who spanked my Dodgers in their season opener by the way). Rookies aren't supposed to do this in their debut, especially pitchers?

Without question, he's the biggest thing to hit D.C. Sports since Dan Snyder took over the Redskins. The biggest debut I've seen since LeBron James. The fans were starved for something like this and every pitch was greeted like a World Series moment. Now the real work begins.

He has to refine his pitches because now nobody will be surprised. He can be dominant like Curt Schilling said but now he has to work. He has the stuff, the command, the control - now he needs to show that he can be consistent. Jim Riggleman needs to make sure he's handled well because a decade ago, we gushed over Mark Prior only to see his arm get overused.

But wow! What a night. (And not to be outdone Mike Stanton went 3-for-5 in his debut for the Marlins. A great athlete when he was in high school out here and a highly touted prospect in his own right)

It got better for me later as Derek Fisher did what he does best, something I said last year after Game 4 of the Finals. Come up huge in the clutch and show his value. With Kobe struggling, he had 11 points in the 4th quarter to win Game 3 - including the dagger over KG, Big Baby and the Invisible Man Ray Allen*

Fisher's clutch is underrated because he plays alongside the Black Mamba. Lakers fans are always split on him because we respect his leadership and his role in our 4 titles but know he's a liability on defense in a point guard heavy league.

Nevermind that Fish has upped his scoring in the postseason (10.9 from 7.5 in the regular season). Nevermind that in Game 5 against Phoenix, he scored 22 points in a pivotal game to turn the series.

And once again, he was clutch ON THE ROAD. There's a difference between just being clutch and playoff clutch - clutch wins game during the regular season, playoff clutch takes it to another level to win games that matter.

Look at that critical play. He grabbed the rebound, brought it up court and then drove the hole when he saw Boston lollygagging on defense. That whole play was about heart and instinct. A coast-to-coast drive that once again showed that these Lakers aren't the soft team of two years ago. And as I pointed out yesterday, it's their 3rd straight win in Boston since the 08 Finals.

Those tears came from a man who loves the game and knows how much of a struggle it's been to be appreciated for his play, not just his intangibles. Thank you Derek Fisher - Advantage: Back to the Lakers.

*Speaking of Ray - John Starks is waiting on Line 3 to console you after missing all those shots as well as Hi-5's on the bench, the gas pedal in your car and your bed when you tried to fall in it.


  1. Great write up. I was happy to see one of my favorites, Fish, helping his team win.

    I just realized two of my favorite athletes of all time have the nickname "Fish" (Derek Fisher and Tim Salmon)...hmmmm.

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