Can Stephen Strasburg, Baseball's Great Hope, Live Up to the Hype?

The jaw-dropping pitcher makes his debut with the Nationals tonight

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Everyone who prays at the church of baseball knows that tonight, baseball's second coming and supposed savior of the Washington D.C. Nationals Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for his Major League debut. Already being touted as one of the game's great pitchers, his start is arguably the most highly publicized outing in baseball history. It has already proved lucrative to the franchise. Will the wunderkind live up to the hype or will he fall into the trap of mild disappointment?

  • In the Beginning... Paralleling Strasburg's start to that of now retired star pitcher, Randy Johnson, Tyler Kepner of The New York Times baseball blog labels the coming years as Strasburg's era. He says, "If you saw him pitch in the minors this season, as I did in Reading, Pa., in April, you came away believing all the hype. The guy throws 100 miles an hour, yet his other pitches – changeup, curveball, two-seamer – are somehow just as impressive. That is why we are all here, media and fans, to say we were present at the beginning. "
  • And So It Will Be Written  Thomas Boswell at the Washington Post, almost mythically places Strasburg in position to lead D.C. baseball fans into the promised land of World Series hosts. "Whether you are in Nationals Park or watching on television when Stephen Strasburg makes his major league debut, you'll know you are seeing a landmark event. A city that went to only two World Series in 71 seasons, then lost two franchises and waited 33 years to get a team back, is reentering the baseball mainstream at last."
  • The Savior Has Come, says Jeff Passon at Yahoo Sports. Commenting on both Strasburg's start tonight and the Nationals' recent acquisition of the number 1 draft pick this year, Bryce Harper, Passon says that between the two events, "the Nationals finally matte— a bit of special sporting poetry in that it took abject failure to ensure relevancy."

  • A Win Is Good Enough, says Dan Shanoff at the Sporting Blog. While admitting the anticipation surrounding the game's hype, he says, "There is no way Strasburg can live up to the expectations, which sit somewhere between 'perfect game!' and '20 strikeouts!'"
  • Set Up to Fail, says PBS documentarian Ken Burns in an interview with Washington Post sports blogger, Dan Steinburg. He says, "you've got that hyperbole that always attends the phenom, and then you set the kid up for failure, which is unfair to him and, in many ways, unfair to ourselves."
  • Just One Game, says Bob Costas, also being interviewed by Dan Steinburg. He says, "One game does not a season or career make, but there's no doubt that the whole baseball world is watching. You can be into something without losing all perspective on it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.