Strasburg historic; Fisher Just Clutch
Did you watch it? Did you click onto the Major League Baseball Network in time to catch all of it? Even if you didn’t, you should say you did.
That’s how historic Stephen Strasburg’s first major league start was Tuesday night. How good was it? Good enough to overshadow Derek Fisher’s icy cool fourth quarter performance to help the Lakers beat the Celtics.
If you had observed the kid from San Diego State in his brief two-month fling in the minor leagues, you already knew. His stuff is electric. His command is extraordinary. His poise is off the charts.
Still, the hype leading up to his first start for the Nationals was unlike anything baseball has ever seen. That’s OK, though, because it turns out Strasburg is unlike anything the game has ever seen.
Trust me, I’ve watched a lot of baseball, but there never has been anything like this 21 year old. Lots of kids have come up with 97 to 100 mile per hour fastballs. But this kid also has a curveball like Koufax and a change-up he can already throw for strikes.
Amid all the pressure, a packed ballpark, an entire city holding its breath and the entire nation watching, Strasburg merely struck out 14 Pirates without walking a batter in seven innings of work. Yeah, a 14-0 ratio. Not even All-World Obaldo Jimenez has done that this year.
The difference between Strasburg and everyone else you’ve ever seen is that he has arrived already polished. Curt Schilling was saying on TV a few days ago that the kid might already be the best pitcher in the world.
“Come on, Curt,” I muttered at the screen when I saw it. Now I’m not so sure he isn’t right. Strasburg is going to rack up strikeouts like no one since Nolan Ryan. Unlike Nolan, however, his control is impeccable. And he does it with an assortment of pitches. Two seamers, four seamers, the blur of a fastball, the whiplash-like breaking ball.
If it sounds as if I’m sold, I am. Put it this way, if this kid were a stock, he’d be Google. No wonder someone paid $17,000 for his rookie card the other day. Turns out, the guy who purchased it might have a bargain.
Every game Strasburg pitches from now on will be like a baseball holiday. He will fill parks, lead off SportsCenter, and generate more tweets than Lady Gaga.
Bud Selig should be very thankful. The Baseball Gods have granted him the game’s newest superstar.
Mark down the date. Strasburg-Mania has officially begun.
* * * *
Baseball has its great, new kid, basketball has its cool, old man.
Mr. Strasburg, meet Mr. Fisher. Yes, the Lakers’ 35 year old guard is slow on defense and can’t always catch up to some of his friskier opponents. But in the clutch, when the championship is on the line, you want Derek Fisher on your side.
He was there, in the fourth quarter in Boston Tuesday night, coming through time and again, making four huge hoops when Kobe Bryant’s jumper went MIA. The Lakers’ offense had grown stagnant, the Celtics had crawled off the parquet floor to edge up to a couple of points.
Then Fisher exploded. The box score shows Kobe outscored him 29 to 16 in that 91-84 adventure. Don’t believe it. Fish won this game. He took it over when nobody else appeared able to crash through that formidable Boston defense.
He is the reason the Lakers are up 2-1 in the series and have regained home court advantage. And yes, in case anyone is wondering, there is no longer any doubt about that lingering question regarding Fisher.
Jerry Buss should definitely shell out the money to sign him to a new contract, even if it’s for more than one year. Think about it this way, Jerry:
How would you be feeling right now if Fisher hadn’t done on Tuesday night what he always does in the clutch? Exactly.
Checkbook open, case closed.
— Steve Bisheff